Since the 1918 influenza pandemic, pharmaceutical advances in antiviral therapy have been significant. During the 1918 pandemic, the unavailability of antibiotics and inadequate treatment of bacterial pneumonia accounted for a large number of deaths. Moreover, no vaccines were available against influenza during the 1918 pandemic. Antiviral drugs play an important role in the control of novel viral strains, for which no vaccines are available. The CDC recommends the use of the NA inhibitor antiviral drugs (oseltamivir and zanamivir) as an important adjunct in the prevention and treatment of influenza, provided they are administered within 48 h of illness onset. The availability of drugs to control influenza during the 2009 pandemic was extremely helpful, along with the strain-specific vaccine that was developed within 6 months of the first detection of the 2009 pandemic virus. The ongoing research to discover novel compounds active against the influenza virus serves as a beacon of light for tackling such novel strains.
Future Virology. 2013;8(4):335-342. © 2013 Future Medicine Ltd.