support the development of new and improved vaccines
The world has effective vaccines for less than 30 diseases. There are many life-threatening diseases that we don’t have vaccines for. And some of the vaccines we do have are not as effective as they should be. Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis still cause millions of deaths every year, and others like Ebola and Lassa fever constantly threaten to erupt into deadly epidemics.
enable better and broader use of the vaccines that already exist
People who are most in need of vaccines can’t always get them. This is particularly true in low-income countries, where resources are scarce – ensuring they are used effectively can be a challenge. Policy makers may lack the evidence to decide which vaccines would be most useful, and there may also be limited expertise in how to deploy them.
What are vaccines and how do they work?
In this Q&A, we explain what vaccines are, how they work and why they are important.
We’re working across several areas to achieve our goals.
Using vaccines to their full potential to reduce the damage of epidemics
Vaccines are a vital tool for fighting epidemics, but developing a vaccine from scratch typically takes more than 10 years. We’re working to support the development of vaccines against known diseases, and of new technology to accelerate vaccine development when new threats appear.
Using human infection studies to create tailored vaccines for low-resource areas
Vaccines work best when they are developed specifically for the populations most at risk. An effective way to do this is through human infection studies, which involve testing the vaccines on volunteers from relevant communities.
funding clinical sites to set up human infection studies in low-resource areas
helping to build local research capacity and strengthen ethical and regulatory frameworks in those areas.
Promoting and using vaccines to tackle drug-resistant infections
Vaccines can help prevent infections which are resistant to antibiotics, and diseases which can lead to unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. But they’re not used enough as a tool to tackle drug-resistant infections.
For this, we:
are creating evidence and tools to support researchers, funders and industry in allocating resources to prevent drug resistance through vaccines
have recently published a report that provides an independent assessment of the potential of vaccines to help with a range of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Creating a stronger, more effective link between vaccine research and practice
For advances in vaccine science to benefit more people, more quickly, implementation and evidence need to be more closely linked.
One example where this link could be stronger is between cholera control and research. Cholera, often thought of as a disease of history, still causes an estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths every year.
funding more work to connect research with on-the-ground programmes, using our approach to cholera as a proof of principle for other diseases.
Supporting countries to make their own decisions on vaccine uptake and use
Countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries with high burdens of infectious disease, need to be able to develop independent policies on immunisation that are based on research evidence, local disease burden and cost-effectiveness. To do this, they need access to relevant evidence, clear decision-making pathways, and technical skills and expertise.
We’re working to identify, fund, share and apply relevant research so that decisions can be based on better information. This includes:
Despite ethical concerns about research involving vulnerable populations, there are both scientific and ethical reasons to consider conducting more human infection studies in low- and middle-income countries where neglected diseases are often endemic.
This report sets out how to develop the political support, financing and coordination required to build clinical research capacity in low- and middle-income countries, which is key to stemming the spread of epidemics.