5 Oct 2011

Flu research contract won by NZ

9:00 pm on 5 October 2011

Medical researchers in New Zealand have won a $9 million international tender to study influenza.

The five-year contract was offered by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to achieve better understanding and control of the virus that causes up to 500,000 deaths worldwide every year.

In New Zealand, up to 20% of people are affected annually, especially Maori and Pacific people.

Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science & Research and Auckland and Otago Universities will carry out the work.

They say better information is needed on the effectiveness of flu vaccines, as well as about the impact of severe pneumonia and other illnesses caused by flu.

Fieldwork involving studying patients with respiratory illnesses in hospital and the community will be done in Auckland next year.

Otago University epidemiologist Michael Baker says New Zealand gained an international reputation for its response to swine flu two years ago.