Vaccine Development Global Program

Influenza

Vaccine solutions to expand protection against a global threat

School girl in Vietnam.

Photo: Nguyen Ba Quang.

Public health leaders agree that the best way to control the spread of influenza is through vaccines. Each year, seasonal influenza causes 250,000 to 500,000 deaths and up to 5 million cases of severe illness. In today’s interconnected world, the virus has the potential to cause millions of deaths, mostly in the developing world, if a highly virulent pandemic strain were to emerge. The development of new vaccines, increased vaccine production, and regionally appropriate strategies for vaccine use are essential to being able to meet the global population’s needs for addressing annual and pandemic influenza.

PATH is doing its part to respond to these needs by implementing multiple strategies to expand influenza vaccine solutions that will be optimal for the developing world. We are accelerating the development of new influenza vaccines that can be accessible and affordable for people in low-resource countries in influenza outbreaks and helping additional manufacturers produce affordable influenza vaccines and enhance the world’s influenza vaccine supply.

Innovation in influenza vaccine development

Although influenza vaccination is routine in much of the industrialized world, barriers to affordability and availability often make current influenza vaccines inaccessible in the developing world. Alternative vaccine strategies are needed that can break down these barriers and bring effective protection to underserved populations. To this end, PATH is advancing the development of promising new influenza vaccines that can be accessible, affordable, and available to people in low-resource countries during influenza outbreaks.

Specifically, we are accelerating the development of new live attenuated influenza vaccines that have the potential to be affordable, highly effective, and viable options for children in these settings. We are also supporting early-stage research on innovative influenza vaccines capable of providing broad coverage across influenza strains. Furthermore, we are conducting clinical studies in low-resource countries designed to inform future influenza vaccine development efforts and public health decisions on influenza vaccine use in the developing world.

Support for affordable vaccine production

With vaccine development resources mostly concentrated within a limited number of vaccine manufacturers in high-income countries, preparedness needs for both annual and pandemic influenza are frequently left unmet in low-income countries. These low-resource countries are often unable to afford or access critical vaccines that can help them prevent the spread of the disease within their own communities, as well as to the rest of the world. With a gap of several billion courses between today’s influenza vaccine production capacity and what is needed to protect the global population, global health leaders recognize that the participation of many vaccine suppliers is vital to meeting needs for annual and pandemic influenza control worldwide. Supporting the ability of additional manufacturers to enter the market and produce high-quality, lifesaving influenza vaccines at lower cost will play an important role to this end.

We are supporting countries with the potential to supply safe and effective influenza vaccines that can be affordable and accessible to populations for annual immunization as well as in a future pandemic. Through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, PATH is helping to improve sustainable influenza vaccine production capacity by supporting vaccine manufacturers in Vietnam, Serbia, and Romania. This project is an important step toward increasing local and regional seasonal influenza vaccine supplies and improving real-time response in an influenza pandemic.

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