As animal influenza continues to cause concern across the world, OFFLU has shared a 2022 report to showcase its “commitment to collaboration and information exchange”. OFFLU is a collaboration between the US Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for animal Health (WOAH). The report details the activities carried out against avian influenza (AI), swine influenza (SI), and equine influenza (EI). Central to its message is the importance of sharing scientific data.  

International collaboration is key 

A statement by WOAH emphasises that the three influenzas of concern must be addressed while animal and human populations are safeguarded against the risks they pose. OFFLU aims to “promptly” identify and analyse strains of these viruses through a “proactive approach”. This is intended to improve management of risks to human health, contributing to the “promotion of global food security, animal health and welfare, and various other community benefits”.  

WOAH states that “sharing critical data with the scientific community and policymakers” was a critical effort during 2022 in response to a global surge in avian influenza outbreaks. Working across sectors is particularly important, with OFFLU bringing a “better understanding” of the situation and solutions.   

Pandemic preparedness 

OFFLU contributed to the WHO Vaccine Composition Meeting (VCM) for avian and swine influenza with WOAH and FAO Reference Centres, research programmes, and national veterinary laboratories. Through genetic, antigenic, and epidemiological data the network was able to support the development of human candidate vaccine viruses for pre-pandemic preparedness. Anticipating a zoonotic shift with pandemic potential requires preparation for appropriate vaccines. Therefore, over 1,500 avian influenza virus sequences and 534 influenza virus sequences from various regions worldwide.  


OFFLU also conducted proficiency testing rounds to “promote international harmonisation of diagnostic capabilities among laboratories” with a focus on assessing ability to detect and characterise widely circulating influenza viruses.   

With cases of H5N1 avian influenza increasing in mammalian species like mink, monitoring and tracking activities were also carried out. Once again, data sharing and collaboration with local public health counterparts enhanced “collective knowledge”. 

To read the OFFLU report from 2022, click here. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more like this.