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At least 1 in 5 were infected in flu pandemic, international study suggests (press release)

The highest rates of infection were in children, with 47 per cent of those aged five to 19 showing signs of having caught the virus. Older people were affected less, with only 11 per cent of people aged 65 or older becoming infected.

The findings come from an international collaboration led by the World Health Organization and Imperial College London, which analysed data from 19 countries, including the UK, US, China and India, to assess the global impact of the 2009 influenza pandemic.

The results, published in the journal Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, showed that 20-27 per cent of people studied were infected in the pandemic during the first year of circulation. The researchers believe the incidence of influenza is likely to have been similar in countries where data were not available, meaning that as many as a quarter of the world's population may have been infected.

The study collated results from more than two dozen research studies involving more than 90,000 blood samples collected before, during and after the pandemic. The samples were tested for antibodies produced by the body in response to the specific flu strain that caused the pandemic.

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