Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

Eleftheria Vasileiou

Project: Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in Asthma

PhD overview

PhD Title: Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in Asthma

Funded by: Chief Scientist Office

Supervisors: Professor Colin Simpson, Professor Aziz Sheikh, Professor Chris Butler 

Based at: University of Edinburgh


Headshot of Eleftheria Vasileiou
Former Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research PhD student Eleftheria Vasileiou

This research project evaluated the influenza vaccine programme for people with asthma by measuring vaccine uptake and effectiveness in people with asthma. As part of a programme of work already funded by the Department of Health, information had been extracted about influenza vaccination and other relevant health information from primary care, linked to information on swabs collected to detect influenza and subsequently linked information to hospital and death records. These currently available data and further proposed data extractions from Scottish databases provided sufficient information for the evaluation of the seasonal influenza vaccine in people with asthma. By making best use of accessible, integrated NHS data available for this project (whilst work is being undertaken to produce better vaccines) the continued development of a strong international evidence base was required. Outcomes from this project will be used to provide evidence to help NHS and other international policy makers decide whether the seasonal influenza vaccination programme is effective. The findings will also be used to help maximise the seasonal influenza vaccination programme’s impact on the health of the UK population with asthma by reducing asthma exacerbations, hospitalisations and deaths that may be viral-triggered.

About me

My research interests are in influenza vaccination & immunization, influenza infection & asthma, quantitative analysis with linked health data.


  • Vasileiou E, Sheikh A, Butler C, Robertson C, Kavanagh K, Englishby T, Lone NI, von Wissmann B, McMenamin J, Ritchie LD, Schwarze J, Gunson R and Simpson CR. Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in People With Asthma: A National Test-Negative Design Case-Control Study. Clin Infect Dis 2019 ciz1086. doi 10.1093/cid/ciz1086
  • Vasileiou E, Sheikh A, Butler C, El Ferkh K, von Wissmann B, McMenamin J, Ritchie L, Schwarze J, Papadopoulos NG, Johnston SL, Tian L, Simpson C. Effectiveness of influenza vaccines in asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis­­. Clin Infect Dis 2017 cix524
  • Al Sallakh M, Vasileiou E, Rodgers SE, Lyons RA, Sheikh A, Davies G. Defining asthma and assessing asthma outcomes using electronic health record data: a systematic scoping review. Eur Respir J. 2017 49: 1700204
  • Simpson CR, Lone NI, Kavanagh K, Robertson C, McMenamin J, von Wissmann B, Vasileiou E, Butler C, Ritchie LD, Gunson R, Schwarze J, Sheikh A. Evaluating the effectiveness, impact and safety of live attenuated and seasonal inactivated influenza vaccination: protocol for the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Effectiveness II (SIVE II) study BMJ Open 2017;7:e014200
  • Vasileiou E, Sheikh A, Butler C, von Wissmann B, McMenamic J, Ritchie L, Tian L, Simpson C. Effectiveness of influenza vaccination for preventing influenza-related complications in people with asthma: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open 2016; 6:e010133. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2015-010133

Research activity (conferences, congress, annual scientific meeting)

  • 2017 | Effectiveness of influenza vaccines in asthma: a systematic review and     meta-analysis, I-MOVE+ Steering-Scientific Committee and 10th Annual Meeting, Veyrier du Lac, France, (oral presentation)
  • 2017 | Patient Involvement Fair, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, Edinburgh (attendance)
  • 2016 | Safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccines in people with asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis, British Thoracic Society (BTS) conference, London (poster and a short oral presentation)
  • 2016 | Effectiveness of influenza vaccines in asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research Annual Scientific Meeting, University of Edinburgh (oral presentation)
  • 2016 | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine effectiveness in Asthma: a systematic review, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK (PCRS-UK) conference, Telford, UK (poster)
  • 2016 | Effectiveness and safety of seasonal influenza vaccination in asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis, General Practice Research on Infections (GRIN) network meeting, Oxford University (poster)
  • 2016 | Seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness in people with asthma: a systematic review, European Respiratory Society (ERS) congress, London (poster)
  • 2016 | Translational pathways: the study-example seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness in asthma, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research PhD training day, London (oral presentation)
  • 2016 | Treating the breathless patient, Scottish Allergy and Respiratory Academy (SARA) and Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research (attendance)
  • 2015 | Seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness in asthma, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, Annual Scientific Meeting, Manchester (poster)


I want to express my gratitude to my supervisors: Professors Colin Simpson, Aziz Sheikh and Chris Butler for their support and guidance during this PhD program. Their valuable supervision taught me how to plan, conduct and present research work. Sincere thanks also go to the Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness II (SIVE II) team: Professor Chris Robertson, Dr Kim Kavanagh, Dr Nazir Lone, Dr Jim McMenamin, Dr Beatrix von Wissmann, Professor Lewis Ritchie, Dr Rory Gunson, Prof Jurgen Schwarze and Dr Tanya Englishby. I want to thanks my examiners Professor Harish Nair and Dr Nazir Lone for their advice and recommendations on my first and second year PhD reports. I also want to acknowledge Lilly Tian and Karim El Ferkh for their help in planning and conducting my systematic review. My special thanks to Professor Nikolaos Papadopoulos and Professor Sebastian Johnston for enlightening me on the biological mechanisms underlying virus-induced asthma exacerbations and particularly the impact of the influenza virus on asthma. My gratitude also goes to Asthma UK and the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research (AUKCAR) for their immense support during my PhD. Particularly, I would like to thank Dr Lynn Morrice and Rebecca Campbell for their administrative help. Also big thanks to Dr Rebecca Pillinger for helping me on Chapter 6 of this thesis with the creation of the British Thoracic Society (BTS) steps. A big thank you also goes to the Patient and Public Involvement Platform of the AUKCAR for their input in the Systematic review and the lay summary of this thesis. Particularly, I want to thank Dr Allison Worth and Melissa Goodbourn for helping my research to be relevant to people with asthma. I also want to express my gratitude to Grahame White for his immense help to transform academic summaries into lay summaries. I wish also to acknowledge the very generous funding support for the completion of this research programme by the Chief Scientists' Office of the Scottish Government. I am also feeling grateful for having around such supportive fellow PhD students and friends. Thank you so much Parisa, Eduardo, Karim, Andrea, Tracy, Io, Ting, Dinara, Fabian, Emmanuel, Hanna, Mohammed and Christos for our discussions which made me to see another perspective of things and kept me going with my PhD journey.