The Global Influenza B Study (GIBS)

The Global Influenza B Study: rationale, study aims and research questions


Seasonal influenza epidemics impose a heavy burden on society, with 3–5 million cases and 250,000-500,000 deaths worldwide every year.  The resulting economic impact is large, and includes both direct and indirect costs.  Traditionally, attention has been directed toward influenza A, which accounts for the majority of influenza cases in most seasons. During inter-pandemic periods, however, influenza B can represent a considerable proportion of total cases.

Despite the important role of influenza B, we still have a relatively poor understanding of global epidemiology and burden of disease of influenza B. In particular, little is known on the epidemiology of influenza in the tropics, a region where approximately 40% of the world’s population live.

Influenza activity in the tropics is quite different to other world regions: countries in these areas may experience two annual peaks, and epidemics are not as short and intense as in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. These differences can have important implications for effective and evidence-based decisions regarding the composition and period of administration of influenza vaccines.

The Global Influenza B Study (GIBS) was launched in 2012 and its aim is to collect information on the epidemiology and burden of disease of influenza B in the world during the past 10-15 years, in order to support prevention policies in the coming years. The GIBS is part of the Global Influenza Initiative (GII), an expert scientific forum that aims to address ongoing problems related to influenza worldwide.

The overall research question of GIBS is to assess differences in the epidemiology of influenza B and A worldwide, paying special attention to differences seen between countries in temperate regions compared to the tropics. Specific research questions include the global burden of influenza B (overall and compared to influenza A), the frequency of influenza B vaccination mismatches, the spatiotemporal patterns of influenza B and A in temperate and tropical countries, the age distribution of influenza B and A.


Website update: 10 March 2016