WHO National Influenza Centre

Research Institute of Influenza performs functions of the WHO National Influenza Centre (RII NIC) since 1971. RII NIC maintains interaction with WHO and WHO partner centres involved in global Influenza monitoring. As a part of WHO GISRS, RII NIC serves as an important link between influenza surveillance systems in Russia and worldwide, contributing to development, realization and improvement of national and global influenza prevention and response measures.

The Chief of RII NIC is Andrey V. Vasin, PhD, Director of RII.

The primary objectives of RII National Influenza Centre include regular integrative analysis of influenza and ARI situation in Russia based on evaluation and summarizing of weekly morbidity and laboratory diagnosis data, which are supplied by RBLs collaborating with WHO NICs in St. Petersburg (RII NIC) and Moscow (IVI NIC). According to the data obtained, influenza and ARI morbidity nature is recognized in different regions of Russia. The investigations, carried out by RII laboratories directly engaged in RII NIC activities, include comprehensive antigenic and genetic studies of influenza viruses circulating in Russia, phylogenetic profiling of new isolates, determination of their sensitivity to antiviral drugs (rimantadine and oseltamivir), as well as preparation and distribution of diagnostic reagents kits necessary for laboratory surveillance.

The data, provided by RBLs, are automatically processed and stored in the RII NIC electronic databases. RII NIC experts analyze surveillance data and compile weekly national epidemic situation reports reports which are regularly forwarded to WHO Headquarters (WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland), 6 WHO Collaborating Centres for Influenza (WHO CCs) in the USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and China, WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and a number of NICs. Additionally, cumulative data are uploaded into WHO/Europe influenza surveillance databases at EuroFlu.org, replenished weekly by 53 European region countries. Analytical information prepared by NIC is also provided to the Russian health authorities on weekly basis and is routed back to the RBLs(see reporting scheme). Since 2010, clinical and laboratory diagnosis results of the pilot Sentinel Surveillance Project, introduced in 10 RBLs of Russia, are also submitted to EuroFlu.

Data obtained by EuroFlu are summarized and published in the Weekly Electronic Bulletin, covering ongoing influenza situation in Europe. Influenza related information is transferred by EuroFlu to the WHO web-based global influenza surveillance system FluNet, thus allowing influenza information in Russia to be available for influenza specialists all over the world. RII National Influenza Centre compiles an Annual Report «Influenza Activity in Russia», which is forwarded to WHO HQ and WHO CCs.

Other important functions of RII NIC include exchange of newly isolated influenza A and B viruses with WHO CCs at CDC (Atlanta, USA) and NIMR (London, UK) with the following analysis of representative strains. Characterization data of Russian influenza isolates are used by WHO for preparing recommendations on influenza vaccine composition for the forthcoming influenza season. Within collaboration between WHO and RII NIC, comparative investigations to evaluate capacity of diagnostic reagent kits distributed by WHO and developed at RII are carried out. RII NIC specialists successfully participate in the WHO External Quality Assessment Program for Influenza PCR diagnosis.

Joint efforts of both Russian WHO NICs at RII and IVI within the International Project «Further Improvement of Influenza Surveillance in Russia. Contribution to Global Influenza Pandemic Preparedness», accomplished in collaboration with CDC Influenza Division (Atlanta, USA), significantly extended and elaborated national influenza surveillance system. RII NIC team was the core developer of Influenza Pandemic Emergency Response Plan, influenza regulatory documents of Russian health authorities, and Guidelines for Strengthening Epidemiologic and Etiologic Laboratory Surveillance of Influenza. NIC supports and cooperates with RBL network, participates in organizing workshops, national training courses, and local and international conferences. Leading RII NIC specialists take part in WHO meetings on influenza vaccine composition, GISRS and laboratory diagnosis methods improvement.