World Immunization Week

World Immunization Week is a WHO initiative that promotes the use of vaccines to protect people against infectious diseases. Immunizations save millions of lives every year and they are widely recognized as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions around the world. With all eyes on the coronavirus pandemic, countries are more focused on efforts to create and test vaccines in response to COVID-19. Because of this, the WHO recently released new guidance to help countries protect critical immunization services during this time, so that ground is not lost in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases.

At AIGHD, several projects are focused on researching and developing vaccines for infectious diseases around the world. The INDIGO project, led by Remko van Leeuwen, strives to develop effective and affordable influenza vaccines for the world. Despite the availability of flu vaccines for decades, influenza is still an important disease in both developing and developed countries with 500,000 casualties annually and many more people affected. From a global health perspective, the lack of effectiveness, availability, affordability, and accessibility of flu vaccines significantly limits our ability to respond to the seasonal flu every year and in the event of a pandemic. The 5-year INDIGO project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme will bring together 16 parties from three continents. Their goal is to develop two novel influenza vaccine concepts that meet the requirements of global vaccination, aiming to achieve <10% instead of 60% non-responders, lower costs, and better accessibility.

A second AIGHD project focused on vaccines is led by AIGHD Chair, Prof. Frank Cobelens. This project is developing a Roadmap for Research and Development of new vaccines to protect millions of people against tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is still the biggest infectious killer in the world. Its elimination requires the development of an effective vaccine. Access to safe and effective TB vaccine(s) for all is necessary to achieve the global End TB Strategy. AIGHD is working in close collaboration with WHO, with funding from EDCTP, to produce this roadmap to define the activities required to deliver new TB vaccines and ensure their contribution to global public health, including clinical development priorities, key capacities required, and policy and access measures needed.