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Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2019 Oct 28;8:164. doi: 10.1186/s13756-019-0631-2. eCollection 2019.

Debate on the compositions of influenza B in northern hemisphere seasonal influenza vaccines.

Author information

1Institute of Health, Kunming Medical University, Kunming, 650031 China.
Huai'an Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Huai'an, 223005 China.
3Department of Public Health Microbiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200032 China.
4School of Public Health, Fudan University, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of Education, Shanghai, 200032 China.



Annual influenza vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza. Influenza vaccines have traditionally included the hemagglutinins (HA) and neuraminidases (NA) from the two A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2) and either B Yamagata or B Victoria. Mismatches between circulating isolates of influenza B and the vaccines are very common. Taking 2017/2018 winter in northern hemisphere as an example, this study was designed to find out the reasons for mismatch between the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) and most of the epidemic isolates at that time, and to discuss if there are some optimized programs for seasonal influenza vaccines.


HA and NA sequences of the seasonal isolates circulating from December 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018, and in the previously other 7 winters in northern hemisphere from Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) and the influenza database of National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Phylogenetic trees and genetic distances were constructed or calculated by using MAFFT and MEGA 6.0 software.


Influenza B composition in the TIV recommendation mismatched most of circulating viruses in 2017/2018 winter; the vaccine strain was from the B/Victoria lineage, while most of epidemic isolates were from the B/Yamagata lineage. The epidemic lineage of influenza B reached its peak a little late in the previous winter might be responsible for this mismatch. During 2010-2018, the mean genetic distances between epidemic isolates of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and the vaccines were no higher than 0.02375 ± 0.00341 in both HA and NA. However, concerning influenza B virus, when forecasting done well, the mean genetic distances between epidemic isolates and the vaccines were no higher than 0.02368 ± 0.00272; otherwise, the distances could reach 0.13695 ± 0.00238.


When applying quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIVs) for vaccination, the recommendations of compositions for influenza B could be altered and assessed once in 3 or 4 years; when economic burden was considered intensively and TIVs were utilized, the recommended compositions for influenza B could be announced in April or May, rather than in February or March as now.


Influenza B; Northern hemisphere; Seasonal influenza; Vaccine

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsWe declare that we have no conflicts of interest.

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