Influenza pandemic


An influenza pandemic (or global epidemic) occurs when a new influenza virus

emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity.

This definition is controversial. Central to this debate has been the question of whether

H1N1 influenza should have been labelled a “pandemic” at all. The Council of Europe

voiced serious concerns that the declaration of a pandemic became possible only after

WHO changed its definition of pandemic influenza. The formal definitions of pandemics

by WHO can be seen in the “WHO’s pandemic influenza preparedness guidelines”,

first developed in 1999 and revised in 2005 and 2009. However, none of these

documents contains what might reasonably be considered a formal definition of

pandemic influenza, a fact that may explain why WHO has refrained from offering a

quotable definition despite its repeated assurances that “the definition” was never

changed. The startling and inevitable conclusion is that despite ten years of issuing

guidelines for pandemic preparedness, WHO has never formulated a formal definition

of pandemic influenza. WHO’s defence of its decision to declare H1N1 influenza a

pandemic because it met “hard to bend”, “clearly defined virological and

epidemiological criteria” overlooks the fact that these criteria changed over time. As

Gross noted, under WHO’s previous (2005) guidelines the 2009 H1N1 virus would not

have been classified as a pandemic influenza virus simply because it was not a new

subtype. The 2009 plan, by contrast, only required a novel “reassortant” virus. (1)


(1) WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The elusive definition of pandemic


MMLAP and other EU Projects

Health system analysis to support capacity development in response to the threat of pandemic influenza in Asia
Making society an active participant in water adaptation to global change
Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation
Engaging all of Europe in shaping a desirable and sustainable future
Expect the unexpected and know how to respond
Driving innovation in crisis management for European resilience
Effective communication in outbreak management: development of an evidence-based tool for Europe
Solutions to improve CBRNe resilience
Network for Communicable Disease Control in Southern Europe and Mediterranean Countries
Developing the framework for an epidemic forecast infrastructure
Strengthening of the national surveillance system for communicable diseases
Surveillance of vaccine preventable hepatitis
European monitoring of excess mortality for public health action
European network for highly infectious disease
Dedicated surveillance network for surveillance and control of vaccine preventable diseases in the EU
Modelling the spread of pandemic influenza and strategies for its containment and mitigation
Cost-effectiveness assessment of european influenza human pandemic alert and response strategies
Bridging the gap between science, stakeholders and policy makers
Promotion of immunization for health professionals in Europe
Towards inclusive research programming for sustainable food innovations
Addressing chronic diseases and healthy ageing across the life cycle
Medical ecosystem – personalized event-based surveillance
Studying the many and varied economic, social, legal and ethical aspects of the recent developments on the Internet, and their consequences for the individual and society at large
Get involved in the responsible marine research and innovation
Knowledge-based policy-making on issues involving science, technology and innovation, mainly based upon the practices in Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Assessment of the current pandemic preparedness and response tools, systems and practice at national, EU and global level in priority areas
Analysis of innovative public engagement tools and instruments for dynamic governance in the field of Science in Society
Public Engagement with Research And Research Engagement with Society
Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data
Providing infrastructure, co-ordination and integration of existing clinical research networks on epidemics and pandemics
Promote vaccinations among migrant population in Europe
Creating mechanisms for effectively tackling the scientific and technology related challenges faced by society
Improve the quality of indoor air, keeping it free from radon
Improving respect of ethics principles and laws in research and innovation, in line with the evolution of technologies and societal concerns
Investigating how cities in the West securitise against global pandemics
Creating a structured dialogue and mutual learning with citizens and urban actors by setting up National Networks in 10 countries across Europe
Identifying how children can be change agents in the Science and Society relationship
Establishing an open dialogue between stakeholders concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
Transparent communication in Epidemics: Learning Lessons from experience, delivering effective Messages, providing Evidence