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Driving faster vaccine development key to reaping economic benefits

Article-Driving faster vaccine development key to reaping economic benefits

Supplied by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Formulation of vaccines
Mass immunisation programmes need to be paired with focused public education campaigns to reduce economic burden of disease, say experts at GlaxoSmithKline.

Vaccines have been one of the most groundbreaking medical interventions in history that led to significant improvements in public health and healthcare outcomes worldwide. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has made strides in this focus area, ranking high as a leading pharmaceutical company with its continued commitment to providing accessible healthcare solutions for different stages of life. A chat with Rudi Rosolen, Vice President, Head of Industrial Operations for GSK in Belgium, revealed the organisation’s rich 140-year history of vaccine development to aid disease management and improve public health through a broad portfolio of 21 vaccines that are supplied to 160 countries across the globe.

“GSK has a network of 12 manufacturing sites in nine countries. Last year, we distributed more than 500 million doses, which is probably the largest volume of vaccines that has been distributed by a company worldwide, excluding COVID and pandemic figures. Our massive manufacturing capacity and extended reach from a commercial perspective are ways we contribute back to society,” Rosolen said.

“Last but not least, we also have the broadest portfolio of vaccines in the industry, covering the needs of babies, children, adults, and now older adults with more recent vaccines against shingles and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).”

Related: Shingles awareness is critical among HCPs in the MENA region

Yan Sergerie, PhD, Vice President of Global Medical Portfolio Lead at GSK, highlighted that RSV is highly contagious and become a growing area of concern due to its significant risk of complications, especially among people with weakened immune systems. The disease has also posed a challenge for scientists for decades because the virus has multiple strains, which led to severe consequences during early experiments.

This global setback was only recently overcome by GSK, bringing hope to not only senior citizens and high-risk patients. “I am very proud to say that, as of 2023 GSK now has two approved and recommended RSV vaccines for adults aged 60 years and above, and for pregnant women. This is a massive innovative achievement,” Sergerie added.

Looking back, GSK marked several firsts as a pioneer in biopharma solutions. For instance, they became the first to introduce US FDA-approved medicine for adult and paediatric patients with active lupus nephritis in 2011 and 2022, respectively.

The development of vaccines is a complex one that involves multiple stages, each requiring the utmost care to ensure efficacy and effectiveness, according to Sergerie. The research and development cycle alone may take up to several years, starting from identifying and producing antigens to pre-clinical testing, clinical development, manufacturing, and finally, registration. However, recent events such as the global COVID-19 pandemic are changing the narrative to drive faster vaccine development. Additionally, the integration of data-driven AI in the healthcare space promises to predict and monitor new strains, which in turn would give scientists an early start to identifying antigens.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)Understanding the vaccine journey

Infographic courtesy of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

Dr. Piyali Mukherjee, Vice President, Head of Global Medical Affairs, Vaccines at GSK, explained that through immunisation programmes, governments can reap economic benefits, which include a significant return on investments as it unlocks healthy ageing and an improvement in the overall GDP of a country.

Related: Shedding light on emerging trends in public health

“Building awareness overall is a powerful force, and it is seen that the healthcare professional is the most influential source of information for patients. Various discussions triggered by the healthcare professional, or even by educated individuals after a visit to an informed doctor, can reduce the burden of disease through early prevention and diagnosis, and aid immunisation efforts,” she said.

Sergerie added: “It is essential to create awareness around indications of the mass population, the devastating impact of infectious diseases, the role vaccination plays in preventive measures, and indicate the governmental and political efforts that are being made to build those infrastructures. The goal is to make it easy to understand, accessible, and very convenient. That is the key to success, and I think this is where we could all partner and collaborate on that.”

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