Update on antivirals and vaccines for seasonal and potential pandemic use

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Influenza pandemics have been a major concern owing to the high rates of morbidity and mortality, as well as high attack rates worldwide. Pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968 were caused by the introduction of novel antigenic strains of influenza. With the recent re-emergence of the avian influenza H5N1 during the 2004–2006 epizootic, there are concerns for another pandemic, which would potentially claim the lives of millions. While vaccination is the only proven means of controlling or eliminating a viral infection, it is recognized that vaccine development will take time and, thus, there has been a renewed interest in the potential role of antivirals in the prevention and control of pandemic influenza.

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