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Influenza "Bangladeshi" - NIPH: - Many can get sick

Influenza “Bangladeshi” – NIPH: – Many can get sick

Since week 40, the National Institute of Public Health has monitored the influenza situation in Norway, sending out weekly reports on the number of cases.

At week 43, and in the weeks now, the International Family Health Organization reported “a virus similar to Bangladesh that is somewhat altered from viruses that were present in Norway before”.

The Bangladeshi virus is an H3N2 virus with changes in its surface proteins which means that our accumulated protection against previous H3N2 influenza infections will not be perfect. Kjersti Rydland, head of the flu vaccination program at FHI, explains to Dagbladet that this means more people could get sick and some could become seriously ill.

In the first weeks of the season, a total of 113 cases of influenza were detected in Norway, according to an FHI report. Last week, there were 31 cases, the highest number in any week so far this year.

It is the predominant influenza type A (H3N2). FHI received 45 samples, of which 11 were of sufficient quality for in-depth analyses. All of these, A(H3N2), are fully genome sequenced and described as the ‘Bangladesh virus’.


“Most of the viruses now detected in Europe this fall appear to be a copy of the flu,” the weekly report said.

Is this a flu virus that mutated as we see with the Corona virus?

– Yes it is. Influenza viruses mutate all the time, and H3N2 is the most variable.

Mutant influenza viruses can affect the picture of the disease. It depends on where the mutations are, Redland explains. The NIPH report notes that the Bangladeshi virus has “to some extent altered its antigenic properties”.

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Mutations can alter infection and severity of illness, and can also affect how well our immune system is able to recognize them and neutralize viruses upon exposure and infection. It is the latter that is described with antigenic properties. Redland explains that if the immune system doesn’t recognize the virus and have a quick and effective response, you will be able to contract the new viruses.

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This can affect the flu season in Norway.

We expect that the degree of protection against this virus will be lower in the Norwegian population, because it is completely different from the viruses that circulated in the country before. This means that many people could get sick if this virus becomes prevalent this winter. Thus, it can also cause more people to become seriously ill.

It does not affect the vaccine

The FHI report also notes that “the H3 component of the southern hemisphere vaccine definitely changed in September from 3C.2a1b.2a1 to the new Bangladesh-like H3 virus 3C.2a1b.2a2.”

– What does it mean?

“This means that the WHO believes that the Bangladeshi virus is more likely to dominate the season in the southern hemisphere than the H3 virus found in the northern hemisphere vaccine,” Redland says.

This does not therefore affect the vaccines we use in Norway.

Vaccines have not and will not change. It takes six months to make a vaccine, and the viruses in our vaccine were identified in February/March. Influenza vaccines are evaluated every six months for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and it is very common for virus components to be substituted.

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– Emphasizes that even if the vaccine is not completely identical to the circulating virus and therefore does not protect well against infection, it will still provide protection against serious diseases.

1.2 million have been vaccinated

The FHI emphasizes in the report that the incidence of influenza virus is very low in Norway today. However, an increase is indicated in the past two weeks, which may be the first sign of an increase in local infections in Norway.

According to the SYSVAK National Immunization Registry, 1.2 million have been vaccinated against influenza as of December 7. In the over-65 age group, the vaccination rate is now 62 percent.

From week 40, FHI recorded nine new hospital admissions and fewer than five ICU admissions with confirmed influenza.