The burden of vaccine-preventable disease is still high
Vaccination is one of the strongest tools in our arsenal for preventing the spread of disease and increasing global health security. Vaccines currently prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles.
Yet despite tremendous progress, far too many people around the world — including nearly 20 million infants each year — have insufficient access to vaccines, leading to millions of preventable deaths each year. Those hit the hardest are people living in low- and middle-income countries, where vaccine coverage is low and the burden of preventable disease high. On top of that, many critical diseases that are predominantly prevalent in poorer countries — including Lassa fever, chikungunya and Nipah virus — do not yet have a vaccine.
The need for vaccines has never been greater. The past 10-15 years have seen a succession of serious infectious disease outbreaks, including Ebola, Zika and COVID-19, with the latter expecting to cause USD 28 trillion worth of damage by 2025. With the threat of future pandemics increasing all the time, it is vital that immunisation is made available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic standing.
Global health depends on equitable access to vaccines
The world relies on vaccine manufacturers to respond swiftly and ramp up global supply and provide vaccines at scale when they are needed. Local manufacturers in particular are pivotal partners for ensuring that immunisation reaches people living in low- and middle-income countries.
There are three key areas where vaccine manufacturers can act to improve access:
Invest in global health R&D to adapt existing products to the needs of low- and middle-income countries and to target emerging infectious diseases
Establish supply for underserved populations by partnering with and supporting local manufacturers
Improve supply security by strengthening supply chains and addressing shortages and stockouts
How we guide vaccine manufacturers to expand their reach
We work to guide and stimulate vaccine manufacturers to improve access to immunisation for people living in low- and middle-income countries. We have been monitoring access to vaccines since 2008 as part of our Access to Medicine Index and Antimicrobial Resistance benchmark. In 2017, we published a special Access to Vaccines Index to map in detail how vaccine companies were responding to global calls to increase immunisation coverage.
We partner with global health organisations to move the industry on urgent matters of vaccine access. We were one of the parties calling on pharmaceutical companies, their investors and governments to work with and support the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which aims to bring equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
In the coming years we will deepen our engagement with the vaccines sector, identifying best practices and guiding manufacturers to take action in the name of global health.
Read more in our Strategic Direction 2022-2026.Read more
Through constructive engagement with vaccine manufacturers worldwide, we can reduce the burden of preventable disease and reinforce global health security.
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