Subtype H3N2 Influenza A Viruses: An Unmet Challenge in the Western Pacific

Subtype H3N2 influenza A viruses (A(H3N2)) have been the dominant strain in some countries in the Western Pacific region since the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza; however, low vaccine effectiveness has been reported in some influenza seasons, especially for A(H3N2). Antigenic mismatch introduced by egg-adaptation during vaccine production between the vaccine and circulating viral stains is one of the reasons for low vaccine effectiveness. Here we review the extent of this phenomenon, the underlying molecular mechanisms and discuss recent strategies to ameliorate this, including new vaccine platforms that may provide better protection and should be considered to reduce the impact of A(H3N2) in the Western Pacific region.