March 2021

Influenza-COVID-19 (FluCov): the impact of COVID-19 on influenza activity

Duration: 2021 - 2022

On 1 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) requested information on a reported cluster of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan from the Chinese authorities. On 1 March 2020, WHO made the assessment that SARS-CoV-2 could be characterized as a pandemic. The emergence of this new virus has had a major impact on the global circulation of respiratory viruses, including influenza and RSV.

Doel Aim
The aim of the research project is to document and communicate about:
- the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on influenza activity
- the measures to prevent and control influenza in the coming years (e.g. by vaccination).

Participating countries
A number of 21 contextual and geographical representative countries have been selected:
- America (4): Brazil, Canada, Mexico, USA
- Europe (8): France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom
- South Asia (4): India, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
- Pacific (5): Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan

Project design
The research project consists of three components:
1. establish a procedure to access and publish routine influenza (FluNet data) and SARS-CoV-2 surveillance data
2. implement a testing and laboratory practices survey of National Influenza Centres to assess how SARS-CoV-2 has impacted influenza surveillance capacity
3. collect influenza vaccination coverage rates in the selected countries (by risk group)
4. communicate our results

The results of this reseach project are:
1. monthly publication of the FluCov epidemiological bulletin (Epi-Bulletin): an epidemiological assessment of the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on influenza activity (below)
2. an abstract regarding the epidemiological impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on influenza activity, which we submit to ESCAIDE (European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology) in November 2021,
3. a scientific publication on the epidemiological assessment of the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the surveillance data (survey results) and influenza activity
Sanofi Pasteur