European external quality assessment programme for influenza virus 2018

External quality assessment

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and WHO Regional Office for Europe. European external quality assessment programme for influenza virus – 2018. Stockholm and Copenhagen: ECDC and WHO; 2019.

Influenza epidemics occur every winter with high impact on disease burden, hospitalisations and excess mortality in countries in the WHO European Region. To understand the characteristics of circulating influenza viruses during seasonal epidemics, virological influenza surveillance is performed and detected viruses are further characterised at national influenza centres (NICs) that are part of the wider network of the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). External quality assessments (EQAs) are important instruments in assessing the quality of the generated data that are reported nationally and internationally through The European Surveillance System (TESSy).

Executive summary

The overall performance of the participating laboratories was good. Certain laboratories are encouraged to enhance their testing performance by evaluating the sensitivity and specificity of the assays in place and apply necessary updates accordingly. Other issues (e.g. incorrect translation into TESSy categories) will be addressed jointly with ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe through training or adapting validation and analysis of data captured in TESSy (e.g. making better use of reported HA and NA sequences and organising/providing training, especially focusing on sequence analysis and interpretation and reporting).