Finding new ways to stop the spread of seasonal influenza

7 August 2018 (Last Updated August 7th, 2018 16:59)

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. The disease can result in mild to severe illness.

Finding new ways to stop the spread of seasonal influenza

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. The disease can result in mild to severe illness.

According the World Health Organization (WHO), each year approximately 290,000 to 650,000 people die due to influenza-related illness. Influenza outbreaks occur every year and people of all ages are affected. In 2009 there was a global occurrence of flu called “swine flu”, a type A influenza virus that is responsible for influenza outbreaks in pigs and led to a pandemic when it was transmitted to humans, which originated in Mexico in March spread quickly and reached the UK by April.

Figure 1: 7MM, Overview of Seasonal Influenza Vaccination, Men and Women, 2015–2025

The rapid spread of flu has lead researchers to devise new ways to understand how the disease spreads and find novel methods of obtaining data to model how the virus travels throughout populations. In September 2017, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) partnered with two prestigious UK universities to create an app that would track how volunteers move around the UK and interact with other people.

The data from this experiment will provide valuable insight to refine pandemic models and could help the public health services identify ways to stem future flu outbreaks and help public health services determine areas that would benefit from increased flu vaccination. Vaccination has been shown to reduce influenza morbidity and mortality, as well as the high economic burden associated with influenza illness.

GlobalData’s influenza epidemiology forecast anticipates that the vaccinated population in the seven major markets (7MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and Japan) will increase from approximately 324,000,000 people in 2015 to 344,000,000 people in 2025 at an Annual Growth Rate (AGR) of 0.64%, as shown in Figure 1.

Among the 7MM, the UK will had the highest vaccination rate at approximately 52% in 2015. Despite the expected increase in vaccination, a new influenza pandemic is still a big concern since the world is becoming increasingly more urban. Cities can become incubators for new diseases, resulting in the rapid spread of diseases due to many people living in close quarters.

Therefore, finding new ways of understanding the spread of infectious diseases is important to promoting vaccination, particularly in the populations most vulnerable to developing severe influenza, the young and elderly. Details about the trend analysis and a further discussion of influenza epidemiology can be found in GlobalData’s Seasonal Influenza – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025.