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SHIVERS influenza (flu) and respiratory virus research

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The ESR-led SHIVERS projects are aimed at improving the understanding of influenza and respiratory viruses and how to prevent their spread. 


Science New Zealand National Awards - 2018 ESR SHIVERS team award

The SHIVERS (Southern Hemisphere Influenza and Vaccine Effectiveness Research and Surveillance) project, ESR as the lead agency and Dr Sue Huang as Principal Investigator, resulted from a successful NZ$9M application (evaluation of influenza and other respiratory diseases in the Southern Hemisphere) to the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011 for a funding period of 6 years.

During 2012-2017, this multi-agency and multi-disciplinary collaboration assembled a world-class team of public health experts, laboratory scientists, clinicians and academics and established a novel and modern prospective, population-based surveillance for acute respiratory illness in hospitals and community in New Zealand.

SHIVERS has contributed new insights into the burden of influenza, vaccine effectiveness, influenza immunology, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and other respiratory viruses, especially among children and older adults.  The study has resulted in over 17 peer-reviewed publications

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment selected the programme as one of the five case studies of science impact in New Zealand in 2016 in terms of its beneficial changes in economic, health, social or cultural outcomes.  SHIVERS also received awards from CDC, the Charles C. Shepard Science Awards for excellence in science and Larry J. Anderson Award for Outstanding Public Health Science. In November 2018, SHIVERS won a national Team Award from Science New Zealand as a Crown Research Institute awards.

In addition, the SHIVERS platform has continued to attract significant national and international funding after 2017:

1) US-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during 2017-2020 on influenza (SHIVERS-II);

2) GlaxoSmithKline (EURO1M) during 2017-2019 on hospital-based study on respiratory syncytial virus (SHIVERS-RSV)

3) Ministry of Health (NZ).

Team members: Sue Huang, Claire Newbern, Lauren Jelly, Judy Bocacao, Jacqui Ralston, Wendy Gunn, Tim Wood, Ben Waite, Liza Lopez, Thomas Metz, Namrata Prasad, Nayyereh Aminisani, Pam Kawakami, Robyn Madge, Susan Walker, Amanda des Barres, Robert Press, Sarah Henry, Christina Bir.

(Including ex-ESR staff: Ruth Seeds, Don Bandaranayake, Graham Mackereth, Sarah Radke, Ange Bissielo, Anne McNicholas, Jenni Haubrock, Tiffany Walker, Angela Todd, Sally Roberts, Debbie Williamson)

Members of the team with the Hon Dr Megan Woods at the Science New Zealand Award dinner: Wendy, Lauren, Sue, Tim, Ben, Robert Press, Jacqui, Christina and Judy (l to r)

New Zealand is an ideal location to study influenza and other respiratory viruses because:

  • New Zealand has very comprehensive and up-to-date electronic medical records.
  • ESR has good and productive relationships with other collaborating organisations that allow for study development, implementation, and approval.
  • New Zealand's influenza season often predicts what will happen in the northern hemisphere.

The ESR-led Southern Hemisphere Influenza and Vaccine Effectiveness Research and Surveillance (SHIVERS) study, based in the greater Auckland area from 2012-2017, was the largest and most comprehensive influenza research initiative conducted in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. SHIVERS was a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary collaboration aiming to better understand influenza and other respiratory viruses and related illness in the hope of curbing future outbreaks and pandemics. Learn more about this SHIVERS 2012-2016 study.



About the SHIVERS-II study

The purpose of the new SHIVERS-II study is to better understand the immunity or protection people have against the flu through infection or vaccination. Findings of SHIVERS-II will help the New Zealand government make choices about what and when it is best to recommend for people to get their current flu vaccinations (shots). The study will also provide information that can be used to make better flu vaccines in the future.

The New Zealand Health & Disability Ethics Committee has approved SHIVERS-II (NTX11.11.102.AM25). SHIVERS-II is funded by the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Contract #HHSN272201400006C). 

Information for SHIVERS-II participants

For those participating in the SHIVERS-II study, you can find the study documents, contact details and other information on the SHIVERS-II study contacts and documents webpage.


SHIVERS-II objectives

  • To understand differences in how the immune system responds to the 2018 flu vaccine based on differences in participants’ histories of previous influenza vaccinations.
  • To understand differences in how the immune system responds to infections with the flu based on differences in participants’ histories of previous influenza vaccinations.

Meet the SHIVERS-II team

SHIVERS-II is multi-agency collaboration including general practices in Wellington, as well as Compass Health (external link) , ESR, the Universities of Auckland (external link)  and Otago (external link) Regional Public Health (external link) , the Capital Coast District Health Board (external link) , and SJCEIRS (external link) . SHIVERS-II is being funded by the United States National Institutes of Health (US NIH) through the St. Jude Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (SJCEIRS) in Memphis.


From left to right: Dr. Nayyereh Aminisani, Dr. Claire Newbern, Associate Professor Nikki Turner, Professor Tony Dowell, Robert Press, Dr. Terry Quirk, Dr. Sue Huang


Logos of participating agencies