Responding to pandemic influenza

Published on December 2, 2014   51 min

A selection of talks on Clinical Practice

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Hello, and welcome to this lecture entitled "Responding To Pandemic Influenza." My name is Jonathan Van-Tam. I'm a Professor of Health Protection at the University of Nottingham. For this lecture, I shall be joined by my colleague from NHS England, Dr. Chloe Sellwood, who will introduce herself in due course. Hello. My name is Dr. Chloe Sellwood, and I'm the Pandemic Influenza Resilience Manager for NHS England. Now, this is the second lecture in a short pandemic series, and it focuses, rather than on what pandemics are, about how, in terms of public health, we respond to them. So it's a good idea to have listened to the first lecture and studied the material to go with it or potentially to have done your own reading about what influenza pandemics are, how they're formed, and their main characteristics. You will really need this kind of background to get the most out of this second lecture.
To begin with, let's remind ourselves just a little bit about the characteristics of pandemic influenza. Remember that these are repetitive phenomena. But in terms of when they're going to occur, we really just can't predict at all when that will be, and we can't predict how severe they will be. They could be no more severe than a winter epidemic, but they could, on the other hand, be incredibly severe, as was the case in 1918. But we can say that there are recurrent features of influenza A viruses, and as long as we have influenza A in circulation, the possibility of pandemics will always be there. In human history so far, we can only say that the subtypes of influenza A, H1, H2, and H3, are the ones that have caused pandemics, but we simply can't rule out the very large variety of influenza A viruses that exist in the animal kingdom, particularly in the natural reservoir, wild water birds. And if you think about the recent history, you would, like me, be concerned about the potential pandemic threat from H5N1, and also, and very recently, the threat from H7N9 in China. And it's these kind of concerns that drive our continued vigilance and the need to prepare for pandemic influenza and to be ready to respond in an appropriate way.