What We Do

We are one of five WHO Collaborating Centres for Reference and Research on Influenza that analyse specimens and virus isolates from influenza patients around the globe. Throughout the year we collect and analyse human influenza viruses for epidemiological, antigenic (immune response) and genetic characteristics.

Data from all five Collaborating Centres are reviewed to determine which circulating influenza strains are predominant in the community and therefore would be appropriate components of seasonal vaccines. Based on these data, the WHO makes a recommendation twice a year on influenza strains to be included in the vaccine for the coming influenza season. This is for both the Northern Hemisphere (recommendation made in February) and the Southern Hemisphere (recommendation made in September). The final decision on the composition of vaccines in each country is the responsibility of relevant national authorities.

In addition to surveillance, our staff at the Centre also engage in research, training and education activities. More detailed information about our centre activities can be found here.

Terms of Reference (2019-2023)

  • To obtain, isolate and preserve representative viruses from outbreaks and sporadic cases of influenza, and characterise their antigenic, genetic and drug sensitivity properties as requested by the WHO.
  • To collect epidemiological information on the prevalence of influenza, especially in countries and areas in the Region, under WHO’s leadership.
  • To exchange information and materials (including viruses and antisera) with other WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza, with Essential Regulatory Laboratories and with Veterinary Laboratories to assist WHO in developing recommendations on viruses to be included in seasonal and potential pandemic influenza vaccines (according to the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework requirements).
  • To provide training and laboratory support to WHO National Influenza Centres and other laboratories, especially those in the developing world, in specialised techniques for diagnosis, isolation and characterisation of influenza viruses, according to their needs.
  • To undertake research to improve the detection, prevention and treatment of influenza and to assist WHO and national health authorities in developing and implementing plans for responding to pandemic influenza.
  • To implement activities defined in the Annex 5 of the PIP Framework under the Terms of Reference for WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza.