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Five Things to Know about Our Future Vaccine Toolbox

Updated: Feb 14

Why We Vax recently hosted a webinar with leading experts in the immunology field to discuss the future of vaccines and how they can be used as important tools to protect and prevent serious diseases.


Sia Anagnostou, Why We Vaccinate Chairwoman and Director of Biotech Business Development at Gingko BioWorks, shares five key takeaways from this dynamic conversation centered on the importance of life-saving vaccinations to positively impact human health. With exciting novel approaches and technologies now available and on the horizon, we stand poised to tackle a myriad of diseases, from infectious disease to cancer and beyond, with a renewed arsenal to better serve clinicians and patients worldwide. 


1.     Adaptability is key to preventing future outbreaks


Industry’s ability to pivot from one virus to the next and address emerging strains and variants using new tools and resources is critical to strengthening pandemic preparedness. Accelerated vaccine development from R&D to clinical trials through to manufacturing and commercialization have proven important in preventing future infectious disease outbreaks. One example is the recent approval of two vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., a major respiratory that causes substantial morbidity and mortality in older adults, including lower respiratory tract disease, hospitalization, and death. Both vaccines are recombinant protein vaccines that cause the immune system to produce RSV antibodies, representing a novel approach to prevention that has the potential to save many lives. With continued investment and commitment to vaccine innovations, significant strides can be made to prevent future pandemic threats.


2.     COVID-19 taught us the importance of vaccinations in adults


While the COVID-19 pandemic had its share of challenges, a positive outcome was increased visibility and awareness about the importance of life-saving vaccines in adults and their integral part of our culture. Previously, childhood vaccinations always took center stage but for adults, there was a divide about their importance to protecting the nation’s health. The pandemic brought heightened awareness to the fact that adults need vaccines too. Unfortunately, adult U.S. immunization rates remain low, in part due to vaccine hesitancy and pandemic fatigue, which indicates more work needs to be done.


The good news is there are now three types of COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children to give people more options. They include protein subunit, mRNA and viral vector vaccines that work by triggering the immune system to make antibodies (“fighter cells”) against the spike protein to help fight the virus. With over 300 million Americans having been vaccinated for COVID-19, multiple times, and more than 13.5 billion doses being made available, we have made a massive leap in progress from a few short years ago.


3.     Advances in vaccine technology can increase uptake


Advances in vaccine technology are crucial to limit and prevent infectious diseases around the world, which still account for 40% of all recorded deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. Changing how our current arsenal is used, innovating delivery mechanisms, and discovering new approaches to vaccine development are crucial components to increase uptake.


There is growing excitement about research into new ways to administer vaccines ranging from transdermal, inhaled and nasal delivery methods that could add to a growing portfolio. Some companies are even working on vaccines in pill form. With more clinically-validated options, the opportunity for widescale mass vaccinations and greater public acceptance could be a game-changer and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.


4.     Collaboration is imperative for continued innovation


With the COVID-19 pandemic, we benefitted from an influx of resources to ensure the research was on target, supported by well-executed clinical studies. This happened because of key cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaborations between government and industry to speed up medical innovation in response to a dire and life-threatening situation. This type of response and teamwork should be a model for future preparedness. This includes building collaborations from the local level to the international level and across different sectors as well as across countries and regions.


5.     There are no borders to better health


“Disease knows no borders” is a common phrase meaning that an infectious disease threat anywhere poses a potential threat everywhere. In today’s connected world, disease can spread quickly anywhere in as little as 36 hours. Widespread national and international public education efforts focused on increasing understanding about new vaccine technologies and access to needed resources will be critical to improve global health. And much of this work begins in the communities where we live – across borders and countries -- as every voice matters.

Watch our webinar: "The Future Vaccine Toolbox" on LinkedIn here.

By Julie Mandell,

Guest author

September 2024








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