Diversity in the circulation of influenza A(H3N2) viruses in the northern hemisphere in the 2018-19 season

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While vaccination is considered the most effective means to prevent influenza infection, its seasonal effectiveness varies, depending on the circulating influenza strains. Here, we characterized the circulation of influenza strains in October-2018 and March-2019 around the world. For this, we used nasopharyngeal samples collected from outpatient and hospitalized patients in Israel and data reported in ECDC, CDC, and WHO databases. Influenza A(H3N2) was dominant in Israel, while in Europe, Asia, and USA, A(H1N1)pdm09 virus circulated first, and then the A(H3N2) virus also appeared. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that A(H3N2) viruses circulating in Israel belonged to clade-3C.3a, while in Europe, Asia, and USA, A(H3N2) viruses belonged to subclade-3C.2a1, but were later replaced by clade-3C.3a viruses in USA. The vaccine A(H3N2) components of that year, A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016-(H3N2)-like-viruses, belonged to clade-3C.2a1. The circulation of different influenza subtypes and clades of A(H3N2) viruses in a single season highlights the need for universal influenza vaccines.

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Volume 9
Issue number 4
Pages 375
Available online
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