WHO selects Thai-discovered flu strain for 2024 Southern Hemisphere vaccine

Picture courtesy of Sky News.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advisory groups have selected a flu virus lineage discovered and sequenced in Thailand as one of the three strains for the manufacturing of a novel influenza vaccine. The vaccine, set to be used in the Southern Hemisphere in 2024, was chosen by vaccine regulatory agencies, influenza vaccine producers, and the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) members during their meetings in late September, as revealed by the Thailand Ministry of Public Health.

Yongyot Thammawut, a deputy permanent secretary temporarily acting as the permanent secretary of the ministry, underscored the significance of this selection.

“The inclusion of the influenza lineage detected in Thailand in the 2024 influenza vaccine has reflected the effective cooperation and pivotal role of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health in the global efforts to ensure the health security of the world’s population.”

The virus strain was detected and its genome sequenced by the Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) as part of the ministry’s surveillance of widely circulated influenza virus strains in the country. The ministry’s flu virus monitoring network, which includes the DMS, Department of Disease Control, several hospitals, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s office in Thailand, continues to monitor the strains closely.

This network regularly reports its findings to the WHO, providing constant updates on virus activities, and ensuring the effectiveness of the WHO’s disease control measures.

Currently, Thailand is witnessing a rise in new infections, with the influenza A (H3N2) virus accounting for approximately 66% of all cases, the influenza B virus for about 19% of new infections, and the influenza A (H1N1) virus for 14% of new cases, according to Thammawut.

In related news, the WHO 2023 Global Tuberculosis (TB) report underscores a significant worldwide recovery in the scale-up of TB diagnosis and treatment services in 2022. It shows an encouraging trend starting to reverse the detrimental effects of COVID-19 disruptions on TB services. Read more about the story HERE.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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