Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

Review Article

Avian influenza pandemic preparedness: developing prepandemic and pandemic vaccines against a moving target

Neetu Singha1, Aseem Pandeya1 and Suresh K. Mittala1 c1

a1 Department of Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Bindley Bioscience Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.


The unprecedented global spread of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses within the past ten years and their extreme lethality to poultry and humans has underscored their potential to cause an influenza pandemic. Combating the threat of an impending H5N1 influenza pandemic will require a combination of pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical intervention strategies. The emergence of the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 emphasised the unpredictable nature of a pandemic influenza. Undoubtedly, vaccines offer the most viable means to combat a pandemic threat. Current egg-based influenza vaccine manufacturing strategies are unlikely to be able to cater to the huge, rapid global demand because of the anticipated scarcity of embryonated eggs in an avian influenza pandemic and other factors associated with the vaccine production process. Therefore, alternative, egg-independent vaccine manufacturing strategies should be evaluated to supplement the traditional egg-derived influenza vaccine manufacturing. Furthermore, evaluation of dose-sparing strategies that offer protection with a reduced antigen dose will be critical for pandemic influenza preparedness. Development of new antiviral therapeutics and other, nonpharmaceutical intervention strategies will further supplement pandemic preparedness. This review highlights the current status of egg-dependent and egg-independent strategies against an avian influenza pandemic.


c1 Corresponding author: Suresh K. Mittal, Department of Comparative Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, 725 Harrison Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA. E-mail: