Home » Vaccines » Collaboration & community: confronting vaccine-preventable diseases

By Hugo Fry

Managing Director, Sanofi UK

This article was commissioned and written by Sanofi UK

The impact of COVID-19, still tragically being felt, brings to the fore the potentially devastating effects of diseases for which there is no prevention or cure. The focus now is on finding a vaccine or treatment in response to a pandemic that has been overwhelming.

It is unlikely that this will be the last new virus we see. The progress we make today, the investments we make in science, social care and strong public-private partnerships, and the value we place on prevention will be vital in helping us to respond to future crises and protect populations against diseases and their impact.

Collaboration is essential

I can’t help but be inspired by the scientific collaboration across borders and the speed of innovation during this time of crisis. According to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, there are already 119 vaccine candidates in active development across more than eight different vaccine types; 110 in pre-clinical development, eight in Phase I, and one in Phase II.* Of these, over 40% are collaborative efforts making it likely that the goal of developing a vaccine will be achieved through collective efforts. Continued cooperation with governments, fellow pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and international agencies to accelerate the development of these vaccine candidates and identify others is imperative. I’m immensely proud to work for a company that cares about doing the right thing and as such is working closely with organisations including Translate Bio, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In addition, we have joined forces with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to pool resources and explore every opportunity to accelerate the development of a candidate vaccine.

Community comes first

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stated that disruption to immunisation programmes during a pandemic can result in an increase in vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) and that such outbreaks could result in VPD-related deaths, increasing the burden on health systems already strained by the pandemic response. This situation has undoubtedly heightened awareness of the importance of disease prevention and the value of vaccination. Despite the worry and uncertainty, we must continue to show our commitment to our communities, not only by taking measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus but also by helping to prevent the resurgence of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

Looking ahead

The values of solidarity, innovation and collaboration that define our response to this pandemic must, and will, continue to underpin the work we do.

We must continue to recognise the value of vaccination to public health. The new partnerships forged in the context of the pandemic have demonstrated the essential value of collaboration and this must form the foundation of scientific progress. As a company we are calling for the establishment of the European equivalent of BARDA, which may help increase incentives for proactive vaccine research and development. Governments must also continue to invest in innovative new vaccines, guided by the evidence and recommendations of scientific bodies, and make concerted efforts to drive uptake.

Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have in our arsenal to help protect the health of people and communities worldwide. The lessons we take forward can strengthen our collective ability to do this.

*All figures correct at time of publication

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We help to prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions. To find out more about our work please visit: https://www.sanofi.co.uk

This article was commissioned and written by Sanofi UK
Document number: MAT-UK-2000461 | Date of Preparation: April 2020

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