The health of influenza surveillance and pandemic preparedness in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemicMore about Open Access at the Crick
Authors listRodney Stuart Daniels John Mccauley
The COVID-19 pandemic is the first to have emerged when Next Generation Sequencing was readily available and it has played the major role in following evolution of the causative agent, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. Response to the pandemic was greatly facilitated though use of existing influenza surveillance networks: World Health Organization (WHO) Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), focussing largely on human influenza, and the OFFLU network of expertise on avian influenza established by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). Data collection/deposition platforms associated with these networks, notably WHO's FluNet and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) were/are being used intensely. Measures introduced to combat COVID-19 resulted in greatly decreased circulation of human seasonal influenza viruses for approximately 2 years, but circulation continued in the animal sector with an upsurge in the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H5N1 with large numbers of wild bird deaths, culling of many poultry flocks and sporadic spill over into mammalian species, including humans, thereby increasing pandemic risk potential. While there are proposals/implementations to extend use of GISRS and GISAID to other infectious disease agents (e.g. Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Monkeypox), there is need to ensure that influenza surveillance is maintained and improved in both human and animal sectors in a sustainable manner to be truly prepared (early detection) for the next influenza pandemic.