Please cite this paper as: Vuong et al. (2013). The genetic match between vaccine strains and circulating seasonal influenza A viruses in Vietnam, 2001–2009. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7(6), 1151–1157.
Background Vietnam is currently developing domestic capability to manufacture influenza vaccines but information on the genetic and antigenic characteristics of locally circulating seasonal influenza viruses is limited. To assess the relevance of WHO recommended vaccine strains to the situation in Vietnam, we analyzed the genetic relatedness of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene of seasonal influenza A viruses circulating in Vietnam from 2001 to 2009 to WHO recommended vaccine strains over the same period.
Methods and Principal findings We sequenced the HA gene of 32 H1N1 and 44 H3N2 seasonal influenza A isolates from laboratory-based sentinel surveillance sites in Hanoi from 2001 to 2005 and from a national influenza surveillance system from 2005 to 2009. H1 and H3 HA phylogenetic trees rooted to vaccine strains A/Beijing/295/1995 (H1N1) and A/Moscow/10/1999 (H3N2), respectively, were constructed with contemporary HA sequences of isolates from neighboring countries. We found some genetic differences between seasonal influenza H3N2 viruses and three WHO influenza vaccine strains recommended for use in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres for the 2001–2004 and 2007–2008 seasons and close genetic identity of circulating H3N2 strains with the recommended WHO Southern Hemisphere vaccine strains for 2004 and 2009 seasons. The genetic similarity of circulating H1N1 strains with the WHO recommended vaccine strains are described for the study period 2001–2009.
Conclusions The HA gene of seasonal influenza virus strains in Vietnam (especially influenza A/H3N2) showed varying degrees of genetic identity compared with those of the Northern or Southern Hemisphere vaccine strains recommended by WHO. The close relatedness of the HA of Vietnamese strains and contemporary strains from nearby countries indicate a good genetic match of circulating strains during study period. Greater representation of virus isolates from South East Asia in the vaccine strain selection process is desirable of influenza vaccine development in Vietnam.