Publications by authors named "Gary Grohmann"

10 Publications

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Quadrivalent influenza vaccines in low and middle income countries: Cost-effectiveness, affordability and availability.

Vaccine 2018 06 6;36(28):3993-3997. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Inserm, 101, Paris, France. Electronic address:

In high-income countries, there is an increased tendency to replace inactivated seasonal trivalent influenza (TIV) vaccines with quadrivalent (QIV) vaccines as these are considered to give a greater public health benefit. In addition, several recent studies from the USA and Europe indicate that replacement with QIV might also be cost-effective; however, the situation in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) is less clear as few studies have investigated this aspect. The paper by de Boer et al. (2008) describes a dynamic modelling study commissioned by WHO that suggests that in LMICs, under certain conditions, QIV might also be more cost-effective than TIV. In this commentary, we discuss some important aspects that policymakers in LMICs might wish to take into account when considering replacing TIV by QIV. Indeed, from the data presented in the paper by de Boer et al. it can be inferred that replacing QIV for TIV would mean a 25-29% budget increase for seasonal influenza vaccination in South Africa and Vietnam, resulting in an incremental influenza-related health impact reduction of only 7-8% when a 10% symptomatic attack rate is assumed. We argue that national health budget considerations in LMIC might lead decision-makers to choose other investments with higher health impact for a budget equivalent to roughly a quarter of the yearly TIV immunization costs. In addition to an increased annual cost that would be associated with a decision to replace TIV with QIV, there would be an increased pressure on manufacturers to produce QIV in time for the influenza season requiring manufacturers to produce some components of the seasonal vaccine at risk prior to the WHO recommendations for influenza vaccines. Unless the current uncertainties, impracticalities and increased costs associated with QIVs are resolved, TIVs are likely to remain the more attractive option for many LMICs. Each country should establish its context-specific process for decision-making based on national data on disease burden and costs in order to determine whether the health gains out-weigh the additional cost of moving to QIV. For example, immunizing more people in the population, especially those in higher risk groups, with TIV might not only provide better value for money but also deliver better health outcomes in LMICs. Countries with local influenza vaccine manufacturing capacity should include in their seasonal influenza vaccine procurement process an analysis of the pros- and cons- of TIV versus QIV, to ensure both feasibility and sustainability of local manufacturing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.05.099DOI Listing
June 2018

Challenges and successes for the grantees and the Technical Advisory Group of WHO's influenza vaccine technology transfer initiative.

Vaccine 2016 10 6;34(45):5420-5424. Epub 2016 Aug 6.

Consultant in Virology, UK.

One of the aims of the WHO Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines (GAP) was to transfer influenza vaccine production technology to interested manufacturers and governments in developing countries, to enable greater influenza vaccine manufacturing capacity against any pandemic threat or pandemic. For this objective, the GAP was supported by an independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to assist WHO to select vaccine manufacturing proposals for funding and to provide programmatic support for successful grantees. While there were many challenges, for both the TAG and grantees, there were also notable successes with an additional capacity of 338-600 million pandemic vaccine doses being made possible by the programme between 2007 and 2015, and a potential capacity of more than 600 million by 2016/17 with up to one billion doses expected by 2018/19. Seasonal vaccine production was also developed in 4 countries with another 4-5 countries expected to be producing seasonal vaccine by 2018/19. The relatively small WHO investments - in time and funding - made in these companies to develop their own influenza vaccine production facilities have had quite dramatic results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.07.047DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357709PMC
October 2016

Strengthening the influenza vaccine virus selection and development process: Report of the 3rd WHO Informal Consultation for Improving Influenza Vaccine Virus Selection held at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 1-3 April 2014.

Vaccine 2015 Aug 3;33(36):4368-82. Epub 2015 Jul 3.

National Influenza Center, Helsinki, Finland.

Despite long-recognized challenges and constraints associated with their updating and manufacture, influenza vaccines remain at the heart of public health preparedness and response efforts against both seasonal and potentially pandemic influenza viruses. Globally coordinated virological and epidemiological surveillance is the foundation of the influenza vaccine virus selection and development process. Although national influenza surveillance and reporting capabilities are being strengthened and expanded, sustaining and building upon recent gains has become a major challenge. Strengthening the vaccine virus selection process additionally requires the continuation of initiatives to improve the timeliness and representativeness of influenza viruses shared by countries for detailed analysis by the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). Efforts are also continuing at the national, regional, and global levels to better understand the dynamics of influenza transmission in both temperate and tropical regions. Improved understanding of the degree of influenza seasonality in tropical countries of the world should allow for the strengthening of national vaccination policies and use of the most appropriate available vaccines. There remain a number of limitations and difficulties associated with the use of HAI assays for the antigenic characterization and selection of influenza vaccine viruses by WHOCCs. Current approaches to improving the situation include the more-optimal use of HAI and other assays; improved understanding of the data produced by neutralization assays; and increased standardization of serological testing methods. A number of new technologies and associated tools have the potential to revolutionize influenza surveillance and response activities. These include the increasingly routine use of whole genome next-generation sequencing and other high-throughput approaches. Such approaches could not only become key elements in outbreak investigations but could drive a new surveillance paradigm. However, despite the advances made, significant challenges will need to be addressed before next-generation technologies become routine, particularly in low-resource settings. Emerging approaches and techniques such as synthetic genomics, systems genetics, systems biology and mathematical modelling are capable of generating potentially huge volumes of highly complex and diverse datasets. Harnessing the currently theoretical benefits of such bioinformatics ("big data") concepts for the influenza vaccine virus selection and development process will depend upon further advances in data generation, integration, analysis and dissemination. Over the last decade, growing awareness of influenza as an important global public health issue has been coupled to ever-increasing demands from the global community for more-equitable access to effective and affordable influenza vaccines. The current influenza vaccine landscape continues to be dominated by egg-based inactivated and live attenuated vaccines, with a small number of cell-based and recombinant vaccines. Successfully completing each step in the annual influenza vaccine manufacturing cycle will continue to rely upon timely and regular communication between the WHO GISRS, manufacturers and regulatory authorities. While the pipeline of influenza vaccines appears to be moving towards a variety of niche products in the near term, it is apparent that the ultimate aim remains the development of effective "universal" influenza vaccines that offer longer-lasting immunity against a broad range of influenza A subtypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.06.090DOI Listing
August 2015

WHO recommendations for the viruses used in the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine: Epidemiology, antigenic and genetic characteristics of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and B influenza viruses collected from October 2012 to January 2013.

Vaccine 2014 Aug 28;32(37):4713-25. Epub 2014 Feb 28.

WHO Global Influenza Programme (GIP), Geneva, Switzerland.

In February the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends influenza viruses to be included in influenza vaccines for the forthcoming winter in the Northern Hemisphere. These recommendations are based on data collected by National Influenza Centres (NICs) through the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and a more detailed analysis of representative and potential antigenically variant influenza viruses from the WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza (WHO CCs) and Essential Regulatory Laboratories (ERLs). This article provides a detailed summary of the antigenic and genetic properties of viruses and additional background data used by WHO experts during development of the recommendations of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine composition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.02.014DOI Listing
August 2014

WHO recommendations for the viruses to be used in the 2012 Southern Hemisphere Influenza Vaccine: epidemiology, antigenic and genetic characteristics of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and B influenza viruses collected from February to September 2011.

Vaccine 2012 Oct 20;30(45):6461-71. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control of Influenza, Influenza Division, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

In February and September each year the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends influenza viruses to be included in influenza vaccines for the forthcoming winters in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres respectively. These recommendations are based on data collected by National Influenza Centres (NIC) through the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and a more detailed analysis of representative and potential antigenically variant influenza viruses from the WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza (WHO CCs) and Essential Regulatory Laboratories (ERLs). This article provides a detailed summary of the antigenic and genetic properties of viruses and additional background data used by WHO experts during development of the recommendations for the 2012 Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine composition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.07.089DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6061925PMC
October 2012

Improving influenza vaccine virus selection: report of a WHO informal consultation held at WHO headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, 14-16 June 2010.

Influenza Other Respir Viruses 2012 Mar 8;6(2):142-52, e1-5. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

National Influenza Centre, Accra, Ghana.

• For almost 60 years, the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) has been the key player in monitoring the evolution and spread of influenza viruses and recommending the strains to be used in human influenza vaccines. The GISRS has also worked to continually monitor and assess the risk posed by potential pandemic viruses and to guide appropriate public health responses. • The expanded and enhanced role of the GISRS following the adoption of the International Health Regulations (2005), recognition of the continuing threat posed by avian H5N1 and the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic provide an opportune time to critically review the process by which influenza vaccine viruses are selected. In addition to identifying potential areas for improvement, such a review will also help to promote greater appreciation by the wider influenza and policy-making community of the complexity of influenza vaccine virus selection. • The selection process is highly coordinated and involves continual year-round integration of virological data and epidemiological information by National Influenza Centres (NICs), thorough antigenic and genetic characterization of viruses by WHO Collaborating Centres (WHOCCs) as part of selecting suitable candidate vaccine viruses, and the preparation of suitable reassortants and corresponding reagents for vaccine standardization by WHO Essential Regulatory Laboratories (ERLs). • Ensuring the optimal effectiveness of vaccines has been assisted in recent years by advances in molecular diagnosis and the availability of more extensive genetic sequence data. However, there remain a number of challenging constraints including variations in the assays used, the possibility of complications resulting from non-antigenic changes, the limited availability of suitable vaccine viruses and the requirement for recommendations to be made up to a year in advance of the peak of influenza season because of production constraints. • Effective collaboration and coordination between human and animal influenza networks is increasingly recognized as an essential requirement for the improved integration of data on animal and human viruses, the identification of unusual influenza A viruses infecting human, the evaluation of pandemic risk and the selection of candidate viruses for pandemic vaccines. • Training workshops, assessments and donations have led to significant increases in trained laboratory personnel and equipment with resulting expansion in both geographical surveillance coverage and in the capacities of NICs and other laboratories. This has resulted in a significant increase in the volume of information reported to WHO on the spread, intensity and impact of influenza. In addition, initiatives such as the WHO Shipment Fund Project have facilitated the timely sharing of clinical specimens and virus isolates and contributed to a more comprehensive understanding of the global distribution and temporal circulation of different viruses. It will be important to sustain and build upon the gains made in these and other areas. • Although the haemagglutination inhibition (HAI) assay is likely to remain the assay of choice for the antigenic characterization of viruses in the foreseeable future, alternative assays - for example based upon advanced recombinant DNA and protein technologies - may be more adaptable to automation. Other technologies such as microtitre neuraminidase inhibition assays may also have significant implications for both vaccine virus selection and vaccine development. • Microneutralization assays provide an important adjunct to the HAI assay in virus antigenic characterization. Improvements in the use and potential automation of such assays should facilitate large-scale serological studies, while other advanced techniques such as epitope mapping should allow for a more accurate assessment of the quality of a protective immune response and aid the development of additional criteria for measuring immunity. • Standardized seroepidemiological surveys to assess the impact of influenza in a population could help to establish well-characterized banks of age-stratified representative sera as a national, regional and global resource, while providing direct evidence of the specific benefits of vaccination. • Advances in high-throughput genetic sequencing coupled with advanced bioinformatics tools, together with more X-ray crystallographic data, should accelerate understanding of the genetic and phenotypic changes that underlie virus evolution and more specifically help to predict the influence of amino acid changes on virus antigenicity. • Complex mathematical modelling techniques are increasingly being used to gain insights into the evolution and epidemiology of influenza viruses. However, their value in predicting the timing and nature of future antigenic and genetic changes is likely to be limited at present. The application of simpler non-mechanistic statistical algorithms, such as those already used as the basis of antigenic cartography, and phylogenetic modelling are more likely to be useful in facilitating vaccine virus selection and in aiding assessment of the pandemic potential of avian and other animal influenza viruses. • The adoption of alternative vaccine technologies - such as live-attenuated, quadrivalent or non-HA-based vaccines - has significant implications for vaccine virus selection, as well as for vaccine regulatory and manufacturing processes. Recent collaboration between the GISRS and vaccine manufacturers has resulted in the increased availability of egg isolates and high-growth reassortants for vaccine production, the development of qualified cell cultures and the investigation of alternative methods of vaccine potency testing. WHO will continue to support these and other efforts to increase the reliability and timeliness of the global influenza vaccine supply. • The WHO GISRS and its partners are continually working to identify improvements, harness new technologies and strengthen and sustain collaboration. WHO will continue in its central role of coordinating worldwide expertise to meet the increasing public health need for influenza vaccines and will support efforts to improve the vaccine virus selection process, including through the convening of periodic international consultations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00277.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4954460PMC
March 2012

WHO influenza vaccine technology transfer initiative: role and activities of the Technical Advisory Group.

Vaccine 2011 Jul;29 Suppl 1:A45-7

Executive Director Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, South San Francisco, CA, USA.

In May 2006, the WHO published a Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan. A significant part of that plan involves the transfer of technology necessary to build production capacity in developing countries. The WHO influenza technology transfer initiative has been successful. Clearly the relatively small WHO investments made in these companies to develop their own influenza vaccine production facilities have had quite dramatic results. A few companies are already producing large amounts of influenza vaccine. Others will soon follow. Whether they are developing egg-based or planning non-egg based influenza vaccine production, all companies are optimistic that their efforts will come to fruition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.02.078DOI Listing
July 2011

Epidemiological, antigenic and genetic characteristics of seasonal influenza A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and B influenza viruses: basis for the WHO recommendation on the composition of influenza vaccines for use in the 2009-2010 northern hemisphere season.

Vaccine 2010 Feb 9;28(5):1156-67. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, VIDRL, Melbourne, Australia.

Influenza vaccines form an important component of the global response against infections and subsequent illness caused in man by influenza viruses. Twice a year, in February and September, the World Health Organisation through its Global Influenza Surveillance Network (GISN), recommends appropriate influenza viruses to be included in the seasonal influenza vaccine for the upcoming Northern and Southern Hemisphere winters. This recommendation is based on the latest data generated from many sources and the availability of viruses that are suitable for vaccine manufacture. This article gives a summary of the data and background to the recommendations for the 2009-2010 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine formulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.11.043DOI Listing
February 2010

Pandemic vaccines: promises and pitfalls.

Med J Aust 2006 11;185(S10):S62-5

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Prototype vaccines against influenza A/H5N1 may be poorly immunogenic, and two or more doses may be required to induce levels of neutralising antibody that are deemed to be protective. The actual levels of antibody required to protect against a highly pathogenic virus that potentially can spread beyond the large airways is unknown. The global capacity for vaccine manufacture in eggs or tissue culture is considerable, but the number of doses that can theoretically be produced in a pandemic context will only be sufficient for a small fraction of the world's population, even less if a high antigen content is required. The safety of new pandemic vaccines should be addressed in an internationally coordinated way. Steps are underway through the Therapeutic Goods Administration to evaluate mock-up vaccines now, so that the time to registration of a new product can be minimised. It will be 3-6 months into the pandemic before an effective vaccine becomes available, so other control measures will be important in the early stages of a pandemic. The primary goal of a pandemic influenza vaccine must be to prevent death, and not necessarily to prevent infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00710.xDOI Listing
November 2006