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04 October 2021: Editorial  

Editorial: A Decline in Influenza During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Emergence of Potential Epidemic and Pandemic Influenza Viruses

Dinah V. Parums *

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934949

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e934949

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Abstract

ABSTRACT: There have been five viral pandemics in the past century, four were due to influenza, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 99% global reduction in the diagnosis of influenza. Also, from 2020, global mortality rates from influenza fell to record levels during the influenza seasons in the southern and northern hemispheres. However, as social restrictions become lifted and the winter season begins in the northern hemisphere, it is expected that influenza will re-emerge. The World Health Organization (WHO) FluNet surveillance platform provides global surveillance data on influenza, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) records national weekly infection rates. Both surveillance programs have identified zoonotic avian and swine influenza variants in humans. The WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework requires WHO Member States to share data on cases of emerging influenza viruses with pandemic potential in a regular and timely way. The WHO PIP Framework organizes the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), a global network of public health laboratories developing candidate virus vaccines. This Editorial aims to present the reasons for concern regarding the emergence of pandemic influenza viruses driven by the social and public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the importance of global influenza surveillance at this time.

Keywords: Editorial, Influenza, Human, Epidemiology, Pandemics, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2

Conclusions

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021, reports of influenza virus infections have dramatically fallen worldwide. As public health and social restrictions are lifted, there are concerns about the emergence of pandemic influenza. The importance of the CDC and WHO global influenza surveillance programs at this time is highlighted by the identification of new influenza viruses ahead of the 2021–22 influenza season.

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750