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February 4, 2019: Preparing for the next influenza pandemic - Stakeholder conference in London with HPI participation

Monday, 04. February 2019

On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the 1918/1919 influenza pandemic, the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI) met on January 22, 2019 in London at the renowned think tank Chatham House, the headquarters of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Due to the rapid development of influenza viruses, globalisation and intercontinental travel, outbreaks on the scale of the 1918 pandemic would have devastating consequences today. The aim of the meeting in London was therefore to prepare as well as possible for the next influenza pandemic.

The meeting provided a unique opportunity for discussion between the key players in pandemic preparedness and response. In addition to an overview of the scientific knowledge, ways of improving political commitment were also identified.

Influenza researcher and ESWI Vice President Prof. Gülsah Gabriel from HPI and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation was invited as keynote speaker at Chatham House. In a short interview she reports about the conference:

 

The conference took place at Chatham House - a politically and internationally renowned think tank in London. What was the aim of the meeting at this prestigious venue?

G. Gabriel: The aim of the meeting, which was attended by high-ranking international colleagues from science, the European and World Health Authorities, industry and politics, was to learn from past pandemics in order to improve future pandemic preparedness.

What lessons did you learn about pandemic preparedness and response from the conference?

G. Gabriel: I have repeatedly recognized the importance of interdisciplinary networking in the sense of "One Health". Only by pooling diverse resources it will be possible to adequately prepare for the next pandemic with unknown consequences.

How did the conference succeed in networking the individual actors in the field of pandemic preparedness and response?

G. Gabriel: After the presentations, a panel discussion was held to promote exchange among the participants and between the audience. Thus, at the end of the day, it was possible to get the important take home messages.