Pandemic Preparedness: Partnerships in Protection

In the ever-evolving landscape of infectious diseases, the need for strong and effective pandemic preparedness has never been more pronounced. Across Europe, as countries contend with circulating respiratory viruses1, it is vital that healthcare providers, industry leaders, and government bodies work in tandem to identify potential threats and unify on approaches to halt their spread. 

The impact of pandemics  

We’ve seen in recent years the far-reaching consequences of a pandemic, and the profound societal and economic damage they can have. Over 232,000 people in the UK have COVID-19 listed on their death certificates as of November 20232, and anxiety and depression increased by 25% in the first year of the pandemic.3 Estimates for the total cost of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK range between £310 billion and £410 billion, emphasizing the urgency of bolstering preparedness efforts.4 We must also remember that of the last five respiratory pandemics recorded, four have been influenza. With this in mind, leveraging the lessons learned from both pandemic flu and COVID-19 is important to be better prepared for the future.  

The Power of Partnerships  

Managing a pandemic alone is impossible – they affect countries on such a uniquely wide scale that collaboration is vital to an effective response.  

Partnerships form the cornerstone of our pandemic preparedness. We collaborate with governments and global health organisations, helping foster information exchange, shared resources, and a unified response,  

Through collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), we have rapid access to strains of interest and surveillance information, and wider collaborations help ensure there is robust infrastructure to meet any surge in vaccine demand due to a pandemic. 

The WHO has also recently published a new checklist for respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness planning; an operational tool to help national authorities develop or revise national pandemic preparedness plans.5 This exciting development demonstrates the positive priority actions governments can take to be better prepared for a pandemic.  

Proactive preparations 

Pandemic management doesn’t start at the declaration of a pandemic – a proactive approach to preparedness ensures a robust response to the unpredictable nature of evolving threats. Improving pandemic preparedness capabilities contributes to the ‘100-day mission,’ an industry-wide goal that aims to make vaccines available for novel infectious diseases within 100 days of pandemic declaration.6 

In 2009, only 111 days were needed for EMA approval of a vaccine targeting swine flu.7 This short turn around was possible due to the to the preparation afforded by a ‘mock-up’ license; a procedure allowing a vaccine to be developed for a strain of flu virus that could cause a pandemic. By contrast, the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved 285 days later after pandemic declaration.8  Each day past ‘Day 100’ without a vaccine demonstrates the importance that planning and preparedness play in protecting populations from pandemics. The deep experience gained through the yearly manufacture of seasonal influenza vaccines means we’re constantly honing our craft and are well placed to produce vaccines for global populations, at-scale. 

Preparing against potential emerging threats:  

Reflecting on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and experiences from years of managing seasonal influenza will be vital in tackling future threats.  

Recently, avian influenza has been at the forefront of disease surveillance and monitoring in Europe and across the globe, with unprecedented levels of outbreaks declared by the WHO.9 Avian influenza is just one example of the importance of staying vigilant to future pathogenic threats. 

Ultimately, the next pandemic is a question of “when” not “if”. In cooperation with dedicated organisations and governments, we’re committed to working on the front line to help prepare for the next pandemic and protect public health from whatever threat might be just around the corner. 

Marc Lacey

CSL Seqirus Global Pandemic Head


[1] ERVISS. European Respiratory Birus Surveillance Summary. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[2] GOV.UK Coronavirus Data. COVID-19 in the UK. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[3] World Health Organisation (WHO). COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[4] Commons Library. UK Parliament. House of Commons Library. Public spending during the Covid-19 pandemic. Available at:,per%20person%20in%20the%20UK (Accessed November 2023)

[5] WHO. A checklist for respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness planning. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[6] GOV.UK G7. 100 Days Mission to respond to future pandemic threats. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[7] European Medicines Agency. Pandemic report and lessons learned. Outcome of the European Medicines Agency’s activities during the 2009 (H1N1) flu pandemic. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)

[8] European Medicines Agency. EMA recommends first COVID-19 vaccine for authorisation in the EU. Available at: (Accessed November 2023).

[9] WHO. Ongoing avian influenza outbreaks in animals pose risk to humans. Available at: (Accessed November 2023)