Nicoletta Luppi - 09 Jul 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of the power and impact of vaccines to fight diseases, save lives, and create a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future. The World Health Assembly, with the support of countries and partners, has endorsed a new global vision and strategy, called the Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030), to address these challenges over the next decade and save over 50 million lives.
“Immunization is a global health opportunity and a development success story, saving millions of lives every year. We now have vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, helping people of all ages live longer, healthier lives. Immunization is the foundation of the primary health care system and an indisputable human right. It’s also one of the best health investments money can buy”
In the last 30 years, important milestones were reached thanks to important discoveries of innovative vaccines.
The continuous effort of collaborative research and huge investments of pharma companies in partnership with public health institutions allowed to invent innovative methods and platforms to develop groundbreaking vaccines.
After the historical eradication of smallpox in 1980 that left the world free from this awful disease, a new wave of successes of the research in innovative vaccines started.
Only 3 years after, in 1983, the future Nobel prize in medicine Harold zur Hausen published the results of its research on the discovery of the relationship between HPV and cancer that opened the way to the development of the HPV vaccines in 2006, and in 2020 WHO launched the global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030.
In 20 years from 1985 to 2005, new vaccines were introduced against varicella, HiB, pneumococcus, meningococcus, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, pertussis, largely introduced in vaccination programmes and able to save millions of lives. The global under-five mortality rate declined by 59 per cent, from 93 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 38 in 2019.
More recently other vaccines to protect people at all ages were introduced including the threat of Ebola outbreaks in Africa, that was the result of an unprecedented and successful partnership among WHO, various public institutions, research centers, industry and Governments.
Last but not least, in 2021 the world economies can hope to recover thanks to the miracle of science able to provide in 1 year 4 vaccines against the pandemic of COVID-19, with an amazing effort of all industries involved, and thanks to partherships with EU, US and COVAX.
Pioneers in vaccinology like Pasteur, Salk, Hilleman, left an important heritage and continuous effort in research and development of safe and effective vaccines that can only display their power thanks to effective vaccination programmes developed by Governments and Public Health institutions to win the challenges of old and new infectious diseases to be prevented and protect global population.
Scientific innovation, global health campaigns, and new public-private partnerships are literally lifesavers.
Every life counts and life, life in good health, is never enough.