OFFLU and WHO extend their collaboration for pandemic preparedness

Paris, 21 October 2013 – The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have signed with the World Health Organization (WHO) an agreement allowing the extension of their cooperation on the contribution of animal health data to the WHO human Influenza Vaccine Virus Selection Process for an additional period of five years.

OIE and FAO are jointly managing OFFLU, a global network of high level expertise on animal influenza. One of the core objectives of this network is to share animal influenza data with WHO in order to assist with selection of the most appropriate viruses for human vaccines, which can include animal viruses that present a potential to emerge into pandemic threats. The first such agreement was signed by the three sister organisations in January 2011. Since then, OFFLU has collected data about avian influenza viruses isolated from animal samples by the OIE and the FAO Reference Centres, to identify which strains of virus should be relevant for use in human vaccines. These data continue to provide a cornerstone for human pre-pandemic preparedness and for WHO’s ability to understand the potential public health risks arising from influenza viruses circulating in animal populations.

Given the success of this mechanism, the OIE, FAO and WHO agreed on the extension of the agreement from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2018 and remain committed, as stated in their Tripartite Agreement, to further close collaboration on biological risks at the human-animal interface.