Huang WJ, Cheng YH, Tan MJ, Liu J, Li XY, Zeng XX,. Epidemiological and virological surveillance of influenza viruses in China during 2020-2021. Infect Dis Poverty. 2022 Jun 29;11(1):74
Methods: Respiratory specimens from influenza like illness cases were collected by sentinel hospitals and sent to network laboratories in Chinese National Influenza Surveillance Network. Antigenic mutation analysis of influenza virus isolates was performed by hemagglutination inhibition assay. Next-generation sequencing was used for genetic analyses. We also conducted molecular characterization and phylogenetic analysis of circulating influenza viruses. Viruses were tested for resistance to antiviral medications using phenotypic and/or sequence-based methods.
Results: In the mainland of China, influenza activity recovered in 2021 compared with that in 2020 and intensified during the traditional influenza winter season, but it did not exceed the peak in previous years. Almost all viruses isolated during the study period were of the B/Victoria lineage and were characterized by genetic diversity, with the subgroup 1A.3a.2 viruses currently predominated. 37.8% viruses tested were antigenically similar to reference viruses representing the components of the vaccine for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 Northern Hemisphere influenza seasons. In addition, China has a unique subgroup of 1A.3a.1 viruses. All viruses tested were sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors and endonuclease inhibitors, except two B/Victoria lineage viruses identified to have reduced sensitivity to neuraminidase inhibitors.
Conclusions: Influenza activity increased in the mainland of China in 2021, and caused flu season in the winter of 2021-2022. Although the diversity of influenza (sub)type decreases, B/Victoria lineage viruses show increased genetic and antigenic diversity. The world needs to be fully prepared for the co-epidemic of influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus globally.
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