PREPARED FOR PANDEMICS
“This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”
WHO MARCH 7, 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaccines are the world’s most powerful tools to prevent pandemics. The need has never been more urgent. As temperatures rise new and ancient pathogens emerge and re-emerge on the planet, it is vitally important for all our futures to develop vaccines at speed, as well as have the ability to stockpile and transport vaccines quickly.
Global travel, urbanization, growing populations and food supply crammed into ever closer proximity – all potentially hothouse new epidemics and pandemics. Fast-spreading outbreaks like coronavirus (COVID-19) demonstrate our collective vulnerability to the societal and economic impacts of infectious disease. It is vitally important for all our futures to develop vaccines at speed, as well as have the ability to stockpile and transport vaccines quickly.
Vaccines will also play a crucial role in preventing widespread antimicrobial resistance, predicted to cause an estimated 10 million deaths by 2050. 21 By preventing infections that would otherwise require antibiotic treatment, vaccination can help to combat the overuse of antibiotics and help curb the spread of resistantstrains. They also provide a crucial defence against diseases that can no longer be treated with antibiotics.
As we have seen, dry powder vaccines could play a vital role in enabling more secure stockpiling of vaccines in safer, more cost-effective storage.
Currently the WHO estimates that more than 50% of vaccines may be wasted globally every year because of temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues. 22
Wastage in unopened vials is usually attributable to cold chain and stock management problems and can be minimized. Bad management is a primary cause of unopened vials being discarded because of expiry and heat exposure and freezing in the cold chain. Cold chain failures may expose vaccines to high temperatures if storekeepers and/or health workers do not know what to do in such cases. Dry powder vaccines would enable simpler, swifter storage, with stoppages in temperature control failing to damage vaccines, and safe stockpiling continuing to be secure.
21 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations. 2016. London: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.