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Pandemic Flu

Every winter, many of us will get the flu. Most people will get better after a few days, but for certain vulnerable people, it can have serious consequences, including pneumonia.

The prevailing strain of virus changes a little every year and an annual programme of immunisation, with a fresh vaccine, is conducted during the autumn in the UK. Some immunity carries over from year to year for this ‘seasonal’ flu, but every few years a quite different flu virus emerges in the world causing a pandemic, to which most people do not have immunity. It can spread quickly because of the susceptibility of the population.

Countries such as the UK have plans in place for pandemics, which include immunisation, treatment, separation of affected people, and health services to manage the potentially large numbers of people who suffer the effects and complications of flu.

Lessons from the last pandemic, in 2009, are still relevant for managing new outbreaks and organising future research. This highlight discusses the results of a number of influential projects funded by the NIHR during this pandemic. It also provides information about a new set of projects, commissioned and currently in ‘hibernation’ - ready to be rolled out in the event of a new pandemic.

Published: December 2016

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Evidence at a glance

The findings boiled down, alongside practical questions to consider.

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How did vaccines help?

NIHR research examined two different vaccines developed to tackle the 2009 pandemic.

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Pregnant women and their babies

What does research tell us about how flu affects this high risk group?

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H1N1 flu

Lessons learned for future research

What did we learn about research from the 2009 pandemic and how should we prepare another?

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Flu symptoms

About the research

Find out more about the studies in this area and how their findings fit with current guidance. 

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cases in the UK during 2009 pandemic



deaths in the UK during 2009 pandemic


effectiveness of new (adjuvanted) vaccine

Related Signals

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