Improving influenza vaccine virus selection
Report of the 4th WHO Informal Consultation Hong Kong SAR, China, 18–20 November 2015
In November 2015 the fourth informal consultation brought together experts from around the world to review the current status of efforts in the field and to explore ways of improving the extent, timeliness and quality of influenza surveillance data, evaluate the development and application of new laboratory assays and related initiatives, and assess the progress made in the application of next generation sequencing, synthetic genomics technologies and potentially predictive modelling approaches. Discussions were also held on the production of pandemic and broadly protective vaccines and on strengthening understanding of regulatory and manufacturing perspectives and constraints.
In light of the widely reported late emergence of an antigenic variant of influenza A(H3N2) viruses and the resulting influenza vaccine virus mismatch which occurred in the 2014–15 northern hemisphere season, specific attention was also given to the issue of late-emerging variants and to potential strategies for responding to them. There was broad acknowledgement that under the current and long-established influenza vaccine virus selection and development paradigm that such a mismatch was inevitable on this occasion given the timing of the emergence of the A(H3N2) variant in question.