The Possible Impact of Vaccination for Seasonal Influenza on Emergence of Pandemic Influenza via Reassortment.PLoS One 2014; 9(12):e114637Plos
One pathway through which pandemic influenza strains might emerge is reassortment from coinfection of different influenza A viruses. Seasonal influenza vaccines are designed to target the circulating strains, which intuitively decreases the prevalence of coinfection and the chance of pandemic emergence due to reassortment. However, individual-based analyses on 2009 pandemic influenza show that the previous seasonal vaccination may increase the risk of pandemic A(H1N1) pdm09 infection. In view of pandemic influenza preparedness, it is essential to understand the overall effect of seasonal vaccination on pandemic emergence via reassortment.
METHODS AND FINDINGS
In a previous study we applied a population dynamics approach to investigate the effect of infection-induced cross-immunity on reducing such a pandemic risk. Here the model was extended by incorporating vaccination for seasonal influenza to assess its potential role on the pandemic emergence via reassortment and its effect in protecting humans if a pandemic does emerge. The vaccination is assumed to protect against the target strains but only partially against other strains. We find that a universal seasonal vaccine that provides full-spectrum cross-immunity substantially reduces the opportunity of pandemic emergence. However, our results show that such effectiveness depends on the strength of infection-induced cross-immunity against any novel reassortant strain. If it is weak, the vaccine that induces cross-immunity strongly against non-target resident strains but weakly against novel reassortant strains, can further depress the pandemic emergence; if it is very strong, the same kind of vaccine increases the probability of pandemic emergence.
Two types of vaccines are available: inactivated and live attenuated, only live attenuated vaccines can induce heterosubtypic immunity. Current vaccines are effective in controlling circulating strains; they cannot always help restrain pandemic emergence because of the uncertainty of the oncoming reassortant strains, however. This urges the development of universal vaccines for prevention of pandemic influenza.