Vaccine Innovation: Europe’s Crucial Role in Advancing Global Public Health
Nanette Cocero is the Global President of Pfizer Vaccines. She represented Vaccines Europe on the panel “The Magic of Science: Boosting vaccine Research, Development, and Innovation” at the Global Vaccination Summit 2019.
Vaccination is a success story. Over the last century, vaccines have eliminated or nearly eliminated many diseases that were once widespread and often fatal, such as smallpox and polio. In fact, vaccination is second only to clean water in reducing the global burden of infectious diseases. Today, close to 30 are vaccine-preventable – helping save 2-3 million lives globally every year.
- We need to address the lack of a stable policy environment to support vaccine innovation. Vaccines take longer than medicines to develop – and current policy does not incentivize vaccine R&D efforts. There needs to be increased recognition of the value that vaccines bring.
- Vaccine developers need opportunities to continuously interact with all stakeholders from the earliest stages of development – especially regulatory authorities and recommending bodies. This will help ensure that resources are not spent developing vaccines that are unlikely to be approved and recommended.
- Vaccines research needs to be better connected and coordinated, particularly in Europe. At the same time, we must strengthen our research focus on the needs of low-income countries and pandemic preparedness. Anticipating and preparing for future health threats is one of the great challenges of our time, and vaccines should be part of the solution.
- There needs to be a shift in the mindset of healthcare investment. Healthcare systems are still largely built on treating illness, not preventing disease. Less than 3 percent of healthcare budget expenditure, on average, is currently spent on prevention – and even less on vaccines. When it comes to investing in healthcare we should ask ourselves whether the balance is right.