The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for the viruses to be included in influenza vaccines each season provide critical guidance to national public health authorities, regulatory agencies and vaccine manufacturers in advance of development and production.
During the 21st February 2019 meeting (Beijing, China), the WHO postponed the recommendation of the A (H3N2) strain candidate. One month later, on the 21st of March 2019, the WHO recommended the A(H3N2) vaccine strain for the Northern Hemisphere 2019-2020 season. This was an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (see link for the WHO 2019-2020 strain recommendation).
In line with the published statement of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, IFPMA (see link for the IFPMA statement), Vaccines Europe (VE) would also like to reiterate that protecting public health through annual seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns and achieving vaccination coverage goals are critical. Following the WHO’s recommendations, it takes approximately 6-8 months to produce and approve the full global supply of influenza vaccines. VE encourages National Health Authorities to continue preparing their influenza vaccination campaigns, mindful of potential changes to the campaign start and end dates, given the late WHO announcement on A/H2N3 strain candidate.
As a longstanding public health partner in the field, VE and its members are closely cooperating with European and National Regulatory Authorities to minimise any potential delays and provide a sustainable and timely supply of influenza vaccines for the 2019/20 season.