Ongoing Task Forces

Influenza & asthma - epidemiology, prevention & treatment

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by intermittent airflow obstruction and increased reactivity to bronchoconstrictor triggers. Presently, an estimated 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with more than 30 million European citizens suffering from chronic asthma, among which 6 million have severe symptoms and 1.5 million have life-threatening attacks. Asthma onset and acute asthma attacks have been strongly associated with respiratory viral infections.  

Influenza is a respiratory viral infection that typically occurs during winter months. Most significant disease is caused by influenza virus A and B, which can cause epidemic or pandemic outbreaks. The importance of influenza as a cause of serious illness and asthma attacks is increasingly appreciated. Despite uncertainties about effectiveness, influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs are usually reccommended for people with asthma.

The Task Force will address uncertainties over the management of influenza in people with asthma. To this end, we will perform a structured review of the current literature regarding the burden imposed by influenza, the immunogenicity, efficacy, effectiveness, and safety of influenza vaccines, and the possible benefits of antiviral drugs in people with asthma. We will also review current influenza vaccine recommendations and vaccination coverage in the same population across the world. This review will enable the Task Force to identify knowledge gaps and future research needs in relation to influenza in people with asthma.
Last updated 21 January 2016