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The response to the emergence of the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic was the result of a decade of pandemic planning, largely centred on the threat of an avian influenza A(H5N1) pandemic. Based on a literature review, this study aims to define a set of new pandemic scenarios that could be used in case of a future influenza pandemic. A total of 338 documents were identified using a searching strategy based on seven combinations of keywords. Eighty-three of these documents provided useful information on the 13 virus-related and health-system-related parameters initially considered for describing scenarios. Among these, four parameters were finally selected (clinical attack rate, case fatality rate, hospital admission rate, and intensive care admission rate) and four different levels of severity for each of them were set. The definition of six most likely scenarios results from the combination of four different levels of severity of the four final parameters (256 possible scenarios). Although it has some limitations, this approach allows for more flexible scenarios and hence it is far from the classic scenarios structure used for pandemic plans until 2009.


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