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Pandemic Flu Controversies: What have we learned? Reflections from a workshop to discuss lessons, policy implications and future challenges

This report details discussions at the Pandemic Flu Controversies workshop held on 10-11 January 2013, organised by the STEPS Centre and University of Sussex Centre for Global Health Policy.

There is something odd about the way pandemic flu preparations have unfolded in recent years. On the face of it, there’s a compelling case for undertaking pandemic preparedness efforts. We know that pandemics are recurring events, with three pandemics registering in the past century alone. We also know that the influenza viruses that cause pandemics continuously mutate in ways that challenge both human immune systems and medical technology. And we know that many socioeconomic dynamics including changing farming systems and increasing international travel are creating new opportunities for zoonotic infections to occur and spread. And even if we did not already know it, there are prominent Hollywood feature films like Outbreakand Contagionto remind us graphically of how a pandemic might play out.

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