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Pointers for pandemic planning

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As the World Health Organization regularly reminds us, neither the timing nor the severity of the next influenza pandemic can be predicted. So, when avian influenza A(H5N1) virus emerged and fatal human cases were detected in a number of countries from 2003 onwards, pandemic planning took centrestage. At that time, those tasked with writing and implementing pandemic plans had no easy reference or experience to draw upon as the most recent pandemic had occurred 35 years earlier, in 1968, when technologies such as antiviral drugs, split and subunit vaccine preparations and computer-aided disease surveillance systems for outbreak detection did not exist. This made the first edition of Van-Tam and Sellwood’s book Pandemic influenza, published in April 2009, a useful resource. The book brought together leading experts to summarise the epidemiology, virology and clinical aspects of influenza as well as public health surveillance, emergency response and risk aspects of pandemic preparedness.

This second edition of the book was published in February 2013 and has built in the experience and lessons learnt from the 2009 influenza A(H1N1pdm09) pandemic. It consists of 20 chapters and nine country case studies. The editors are eminently qualified to oversee such a project: Van-Tam is Professor of Health Protection at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and Sellwood…