The use of antivirals, pandemic vaccines and planning assumptions are among the issues that will be set out in a consultation launched today to update the cross-Government pandemic flu strategy.

The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy updates the 2007 National Framework to encompass the lessons learnt from swine flu. It includes a new emphasis on planning for different scenarios according to the nature and scale of illness and highlights key impacts on wider society.
The updated framework proposes:

That pandemic preparedness and response plans should be should be precautionary, proportionate and flexible;the need to plan for a range of scenarios to meet the differing demands of pandemic flu viruses, rather than just focusing on the ‘worst case’ planning assumptions;taking greater account of regional differences in the speed and spread of the disease both across the world and within the UK; andtaking better account of research on how people are likely to think, feel and behave during a pandemic.

The updated Strategy has been prepared with input across government departments, regional assemblies and relevant public and private bodies. The consultation runs for 12 weeks until Friday 17 June 2011. The finalised Strategy will be published later in the year.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:
“When a pandemic hits our top priority is to protect the public.
“In 2009 we were fortunate – the virus was relatively mild for most people – but the threat of a more severe flu pandemic continues and it is vital to remain prepared.
“Whilst this country has been prepared for a flu pandemic for some years, there are always lessons to be learnt. We have and will continue to listen to expert national and international advice on how we can improve our response to ensure that we remain one of the best-prepared countries in the world.
“As a result of their experience in the swine flu pandemic, many other organisations and individuals also have extensive experience of the challenges that can be posed by a pandemic and will have given these challenges much thought. We want to ensure that this experience is fully reflected in the new pandemic flu strategy. Therefore, we are inviting comments and views on the strategy set out in this document.”