Director Health Directorate DG Research & Innovation,
Europe has traditionally been the major player in vaccine research, achieving a tremendous health impact by drastically reducing cases of devastating diseases, such as diphtheria, polio, smallpox, and providing new research strategies for combatting emerging diseases like EBOLA and now the ZIKA virus. Many more infectious and non-infectious diseases could possibly be eradicated by preventive and therapeutic vaccines. However, for some of these diseases, such as AIDS/HIV, the development of effective vaccines poses particularly complex scientific challenges, which should best be addressed by global multidisciplinary collaborative research. The European Union successive Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation have been drivers in helping meeting these challenges by supporting partnerships dedicated to all phases of vaccine development to eradicate or cure diseases. Over the past 12 years, the Union has spent over €50 million per year on vaccine R&D under Framework Programmes 6 and 7 (FP6 and FP7), including activities under the public-private partnership Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), and the public-public partnership European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Looking ahead, the Union continues to support vaccines under Horizon 2020, including within successor programmes IMI2 and EDCTP2, or the InnovFin Infectious Diseases. In this context, the FP7-funded IPROVE project is an important contributor to build a strategic vision for the future European activities in the entire innovation chain for vaccines, and to maintain Europe’s leading position in this important area of research, which is at the heart of European citizens.
Head Global Policy, SANOFI
Vaccination is, without doubt, one of the greatest contributors to medical, social and economic development of all time. In concert with good sanitation, education, clean water and good nutrition, it makes us healthier people better able to build a healthier, wealthier and happier world. Vaccination has eradicated smallpox and it will soon eradicate polio. In 80% of the world, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella are now extremely rare events rather than the predominant killers of our children.Europe’s vaccine pioneers such as Jenner, Pasteur, Ramon, Ehrlich, Von Behring, Merieux, Sclavo and Koch, its researchers, its producers and its policymakers and vaccinators have distinguished Europe as a leader in vaccines and vaccination. Yet, recent epidemics, the absence of vaccines for HIV, TB, Malaria, HSV, RSV, HCV, MRSA, etc. and the promise of therapeutic vaccines, tell us that we can do far better. We can do better if we continue to invest in understanding immunology and immunity, host-pathogen interaction and why people choose to be vaccinated or not. We can do far better if we bring antigen discovery, development, formulation and production into the 21st century. We can better align the control and release tests with today and tomorrow’s technology and we can do far better if we learn how best to sustainably deliver vaccination to all segments of the population and all populations. We can do far better if we have a shared vision of our priorities and we better nurture transfer of technology from academia to start-ups and start-ups to international players.
We can also push back the boundaries with therapeutic vaccines for cancer and autoimmune diseases.Achieving all of this requires a vision. The vision must guide Europe on what research and development is most needed, where funding and investment is most lacking and how we can better link our undoubted centers’ of excellence. A vision will allow us to minimise duplication, maximise synergies and more rapidly and effectively translate from basic research to public health impact. Our intention is that IPROVE provides such a vision. As the first vaccine R&D roadmap for Europe we would never claim that it will be the last word on the topic, but we urge all those who share our passion for vaccination to embrace IPROVE as a shared starting point that will drive and pull Europe and the world to new heights in vaccination.