My most memorable vaccines moment: Making the impossible possible

Like many people both inside and outside Pfizer, I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news that the Phase 3 trial for our COVID-19 vaccine had demonstrated over 90% efficacy.  I was actually at my desk in my home office in Dubai when the email from our CEO dropped into my inbox and I felt an immediate sense of relief – and of course immense pride in the teams at Pfizer and BioNTech who worked so tirelessly to achieve this momentous milestone.

In 2020, Albert Bourla, our CEO challenged everyone at Pfizer to “make the impossible possible” and develop a vaccine that demonstrated efficacy and safety more quickly than ever before – so the announcement on 9th November was the first evidence of success. It was moments such as this which have contributed to the public appreciation of vaccines as a critical health tool reaching new heights. So, when asked for my most memorable ‘vaccines moment’ of the last 30 years, it had to be this day, when we learned we had achieved the impossible.

Vaccines Europe has expertly advocated for the value of vaccines in ensuring public health and reducing the burden from infectious diseases on our health services for the past thirty years. The fact that the biopharmaceutical industry was able to develop, manufacture and distribute new COVID-19 vaccines in Europe, not only to millions of European citizens, but also across the world, is a testament to Vaccines Europe’s determination and advocacy to foster an environment where vaccine innovation can flourish.

Looking ahead to the next thirty years, I would like this last year to be recognised as a pinnacle year for vaccines. I encourage industry to continue to build on the trust, agility and spirit of collaboration we have established in partnership with the public health community, to drive innovation in vaccines beyond the pandemic. Together, we must ensure disease prevention through vaccination remains the highest priority for governments and healthcare systems across the world. This means sustained investment in vaccine innovation, and a renewed focus on routine vaccination programmes to help protect people – throughout their lives – against other vaccine-preventable diseases such as flu and pneumonia.

Finally, as the G7 Working Group on Vaccine Confidence recently highlighted, we also need an ambitious agenda to build vaccine confidence across the world, underpinned by strong science, community leadership from groups such as Vaccines Europe, and policy mechanisms that promote the availability and accessibility of vaccines to everyone.  The actions we take this year to support broad access to immunisation against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases will ensure vaccination remains one of the most successful and cost-effective investment in public health for the next thirty years.