While the world continues to respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, novel influenza viruses persist as a constant pandemic threat. These viruses, which could appear at any time, in any location, can lead to circumstances and ramifications similar to or worse than the current experiences resulting from COVID-19. Both domestic and global efforts, such as the U.S. National Influenza Vaccine Modernization Strategy 2020–2030 and the World Health Organization Global Influenza Strategy 2019–2030, have called for developing more effective influenza vaccines complemented by modern, adaptable manufacturing technologies that can scale production and meet demand during a pandemic. The global response to COVID-19 has pushed the boundaries on what is possible for rapid pandemic response in several areas, including vaccine research, development, manufacturing, equitable distribution, allocation, and administration. If well understood and sufficiently adapted, these unprecedented actions could inform and advance future pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine preparedness efforts.
However, developing and delivering these more effective vaccines to meet the demand goes beyond simply technical challenges and includes issues across governance, financing, research, supply chain, and public engagement. Adequately preparing for the next pandemic can be augmented and supported by increasing communication across these areas and focusing on inclusive, multidisciplinary strategies to build resilience in communities and sectors around the world and create capacities to rapidly respond when needed.
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) established an international committee in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Global Affairs (OGA) to inform and facilitate its efforts to advance global influenza pandemic preparedness. This group has been working to provide OGA an iterative, interactive, multidisciplinary, expert-informed process for assessing the global impact that capabilities, technologies, processes, and policies developed for COVID-19 could have on pandemic and seasonal influenza global preparedness and response, especially regarding vaccine development. The committee convened domestic and international experts from across sectors (e.g., government, academia, industry, civil society, international public health organizations) and a variety of disciplines (e.g., global public health; infectious disease prevention; influenza vaccine research, development, and manufacturing; pandemic preparedness and response; virology; and immunology) to guide their work. As part of the initiative, four National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) consensus studies are being conducted: Vaccine Research and Development; Vaccine Distribution and Supply Chain; Public Health Interventions and Countermeasures; and Global Coordination, Partnerships, and Financing.1 Finally, to inform these studies, a planning committee organized a public evidence-gathering workshop called International Workshop on COVID-19 Lessons to Inform Pandemic Influenza Response to discuss critical themes, gaps, and topics in May 2021.2 This global public workshop convened international experts, thought leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss the emerging evidence on these unprecedented actions related to COVID-19 that could inform and advance pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine preparedness efforts and subsequent response.
Given the global focus and the state of the world in the first part of 2021, the workshop was held virtually across 3 days. The first day focused on global coordination and leadership, the second day on the supply chain cascade, and the third day on lessons learned from the pandemic, in both research and development of medical products and the communication and translation of that research to the public. Each day consisted of two plenary panels, followed by three simultaneous breakout sessions focusing
1 For more details on the four studies, see https://nam.edu/programs/advancing-pandemic-and-seasonal-influenza-vaccine-preparedness-and-response-a-global-initiative (accessed August 11, 2021).
on information sharing, financing, and equity under the broader theme of that day’s discussions.3
This proceedings is organized into six chapters. Chapter 2 focuses on global coordination, partnerships, and financing for pandemic preparedness. Chapter 3 presents discussions around the technical aspects of vaccine research and development. Chapter 4 reviews the vaccine distribution and supply chain challenges and lessons over the past year. Chapter 5 highlights the importance of translating and communicating the research related to nonpharmaceutical interventions and vaccine confidence. Finally, Chapter 6 concludes with final thoughts and suggestions from various speakers throughout the workshop on what changes can help improve preparedness and response ahead of the next pandemic.
This Proceedings of a Workshop was prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. The planning committee’s role was limited to planning and convening the workshop. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants, are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the National Academies, and should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.
3 The archived videos from the workshop from Day 1, with Days 2 and 3 accessible at the bottom of the page: https://nam.edu/event/international-workshop-on-covid-19-lessons-to-inform-pandemic-influenza-response-day1 (accessed December 8, 2021).
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