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Call For proposal 2020-2021 Influenza Season



The biannual seasonal influenza vaccine strain selection process that drives the vaccine composition decisions remains challenging and enhanced data from surveillance monitoring and virology sequencing (timeliness, geographic representativeness, clinical relevance) are most needed.

We are looking for non-profit public institutions who can oversee a network of hospitals and follow a standardized protocol to be part of the GIHSN.

GIHSN evolution to emphasize clinical and virologic data (including WGS) in influenza positive patients began during the 2019/2020 season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of diagnostic and epidemiologic data for both influenza positive and influenza negative patients. While critical to maintain our primary network focus on influenza, inclusion of data and maintaining samples from influenza negative cases allows for expansion, if needed, of our network to rapidly include other pathogens of interest (e.g. COVID-19). This ongoing pandemic also highlights the importance of rapid sharing, when possible, of GIHSN SARI laboratory and epidemiologic data with the global health community through platforms such as GISAID.

As such, the following specific objectives are highlighted for the 2020/21 call for tender:

  • Real time completion of e-CRF (weekly) for both positive and negative influenza cases. COVID-19 diagnostics results should be reported if testing has been performed.
  • Storage (-20C or -70C) of all influenza positive and negative SARI samples for a minimum of one year with a subset of 30% stored for an additional 3 years. This will assure sample availability for additional retrospective investigations (e.g. COVID-19) if necessary.
  • WGS of 50 to 100 influenza positive samples with use of specific selection criteria to be agreed upon. WGS data will be uploaded to GISAID in a timeframe so that results are available for the site’s respective WHO Vaccine Composition Meeting (VCM).


Applicants should be non-profit public institutions and will be asked to provide substantiating documentation when submitting their application. (See How to apply)

All sites must show an excellent connection between a hospital surveillance platform and a virology laboratory in their country, allowing the possibility for confirmed influenza by RT-PCR and subsequent sequencing of the positive specimens in less than 7 days. If no capacities to generate genetic sequence data (GSD) are available, the site may ship its specimens to the GIHSN sequencing platform at the National Influenza Center in Lyon, France, under the Terms of Reference for sharing materials in GISRS. Shipment expenses will be borne by the GIHSN.

All sites must have the capacity to submit GSD (optional) and submit at a minimum consensus data of the HA and NA segments to the GISAID EpiFlu™ database. Clinical information will be captured in the current e-CRF used by the GIHSN and includes the link with the GSD and other metadata shared through GISAID.


Applications from Institutions meeting the eligibility criteria will be reviewed and evaluated by the Independent Scientific Committee of the Foundation according to predefined quality criteria.

Main evaluation criteria are:

  • Laboratory capacities: The existing full genome sequencing capacities on site or proposed referral system to sequence Influenza positive samples should be described.
  • Targeted sample size: The estimated number of sequenced samples expected to be shared via the GISAID platform during the Influenza season is between 50 and 100.
  • Clinical information data collection capacities: The site needs to describe the way and the method to access clinical information (using laboratory referral system or using targeted clinical sampling).
  • Timelines of the data availability: Sites should be able to upload data into the e-CRF for both influenza positive and influenza negative cases on a weekly basis. Sites with sequencing capacity should upload data in GISAID on a weekly basis Sites using the GIHSN sequencing platform should be able to have their samples shipped in regular batches at least 3 weeks before the WHO strain selection meeting.
  • Geographical representativeness: sites in countries under-represented in GISAID will be given funding priority.

Cost-effectiveness: the relevance of the cost in relation to expected sample size will be considered. The Foundation is providing catalytic funding and is not expected to fund the full cost of the clinical and sequencing data collection. In September, the Executive committee of the Foundation will select institutions and the amount of the grant provided during the season in order to support the implementation.

A formal letter from the Foundation describing grant modalities and payment milestones will be sent to the sites selected by mid October 2020.


The call has been posted on the website on June 8th, 2020.
All applications have to be submitted on-line on the GIHSN website before July 17th, 2020 via the application template.
Submission deadline has been extended to July 25th.

Requirements for applicants:
To be eligible, applicants should be not-for-profit public institutions.

The following documents should be provided along with the proposal to attest the above status:

  • Last annual report
  • Financial report (including earnings and balance sheet) from last year
  • Bank account number (official bank document – with swift number)
  • List of the members of the board of governors (i.e. group of people who jointly oversee the activities of the laboratory)
  • Copy of the decree of creation (i.e. Statutory act returned by the president of the republic or the head of government)

The data sharing modality document will be requested to be signed by the selected sites at the start of the season.


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GIHSN - Call for proposal 2020-2021

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