Season overview

2020-2021 season overview 


  • For the Region as a whole, influenza activity has been at baseline level since the start of the season.


  • In total, 816 specimens have tested positive for influenza viruses, 37 from sentinel sources and 779 from non-sentinel sources, with type A (both subtypes) and type B (both lineages) viruses being detected.


  • Since the start of the season, few hospitalized laboratory-confirmed influenza cases have been reported: 11 from ICUs (all infected with type A viruses); 13 (all type A viruses) in wards outside ICUs; and 20 from severe acute respiratory infection (SARI)-based surveillance (19 infected with type A viruses and 1 with type B).


  • The influenza epidemic in the European Region has usually peaked and been declining by this timepoint in the year but, despite widespread and regular testing for influenza viruses, reported influenza activity has remained at a very low level throughout the season, likely due to the impact of the various public health and social measures implemented to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic had affected healthcare seeking behaviours, healthcare provision, and testing practices and capacities in countries and areas of the European Region, which negatively impacted on the collection of influenza epidemiologic and virologic data from March 2020. However, surveillance improved over the course of the 2020-2021 season and although there was a small decrease in the number of samples tested (~20%) as compared with previous seasons, there was remarkable decrease (>99%) in the number of influenza infections detected, with numbers detected on a weekly basis being similar to those reported during interseasonal periods.


Other news


The World Health Organization categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020.


For more information about the situation in the WHO European Region visit:


Influenza positivity
  • As of week 14/2021, for the European Region, influenza virus positivity in sentinel specimens remained below the epidemic threshold, which is set at 10%.
External data sources

Mortality monitoring:


  • Overall pooled estimates for 26 countries or areas participating in the EuroMOMO project have now returned to normal levels following a period of substantial excess mortality observed in some countries. However, a few countries may still have some excess mortality.