The Need for Vaccines: Overcoming the bottleneck


Infectious diseases impose the major health burden in the developing world. The World Health Organization’s most recent evaluation of the Global Burden of Disease estimated that in 2004 there were 13.8 million deaths in the world from infectious diseases. Nearly half of these (5.9 million) were of children aged between one month and five years. All but a few of these deaths in children were in low and middle income countries.

Two diseases, pneumonia and diarrhea, caused more than half of the deaths. Diarrhea alone killed more children than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Most of the 5.9 million deaths occurred from diseases for which there are either no vaccines, or for which the vaccines in use in Western countries are poorly suited for use in developing countries. Despite this burden of disease, in the past 20 years only three new types of vaccines --vaccines for cholera (2001) Rotavirus (2007 & 2008) and a vaccine for Meningococcal A (2010 ) -- have been certified by the World Health Organization for purchase for use in developing country public health programs.

A major bottleneck in the path to new vaccines is the expertise and facilities needed to turn a laboratory concept into a practical demonstration that the vaccine is possible to manufacture and that it works. The Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health with its access to the facilities and expertise of a major vaccine manufacturer was created to bridge this gap between academia and industry.