8 May 2009 - The SIB announced today that the EpiFlu database is being used as the exchange platform for the A(H1N1) influenza 2009. Compared to the 2006 H5N1 outbreak which lead to the creation of this database, researchers have had rapid access to the sequence data, which is essential for alerting health officials and tracking A(H1N1) influenza outbreaks. An increasing number of researchers are using the EpiFlu database http://platform.gisaid.org/, part of the GISAID* initiative, to deposit, distribute and analyse sequences of A(H1N1) influenza.
The EpiFlu database was developed by the SIB using their long-term expertise in database creation and bioinformatics, in conjunction with partners such as the U.S. Centres of Disease Control CDC, the World Health Organization WHO, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO, and World Organisation for Animal Health OIE. It uses the Max Planck Institute for their platform support (wiki and blog).
By bringing together bioinformaticians, computational biologists and end-users, this consortium has enabled the development of a system that we hope will cope with the need to share influenza data rapidly. The EpiFlu database has also been used for the seasonal influenza vaccine strain selection (2009-2010) by the WHO collaborating centers.
The EpiFlu database stores both genomic and epidemiological data, which is available for analysis. Bioinformatics and computational tools are available to help in the decision-making for the selection of the new set of vaccines. The platform provides the scientific community with free access to the data which has been entered from all around the world.