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WHO calls for increased vaccine development

July 27, 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned more must be done to curb the ‘silent pandemic’ of infections caused by Antimicrobial-Resistant (AMR) bacterial pathogens.

The WHO says more needs done to curb the  pandemic of infections caused by AMR bacterial pathogens and calls for more vaccine development

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

Resistant bacterial infections are associated with nearly five million deaths a year, and more than 1.2 million deaths are directly attributed to AMR.

As incidents of AMR continue to rise, the WHO is calling for more vaccines to be developed to tackle them and has urged countries to make better use of the ones currently available.

It comes as the body releases its first-ever report on the pipeline of vaccines currently in development, geared at guiding further investment and research.

The report identifies 61 vaccine candidates, which includes several that are in late stages of development though most will not be available anytime soon.

It also looks at some of the challenges facing vaccine innovation and development, including those for pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections.

Issues include the difficulty in defining target populations among all admitted hospital patients, the cost and complexity of vaccine efficacy trials, and the lack of regulatory or policy precedent for vaccines against infections.

Currently, out of the top six bacterial pathogens responsible for deaths due to AMR, only one – pneumococcal disease – has a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the WHO has called for equitable and global access to the vaccines that already exist, such as those against four priority bacterial pathogens that include pneumococcal disease, tuberculosis and Typhoid fever.

In the call for improved vaccine development, the WHO has said important lessons have been learned from those created during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Haileyesus Getahun, Director of the agency’s AMR Global Coordination Department, said:

“Disruptive approaches are needed to enrich the pipeline and accelerate vaccine development.

“The lessons from COVID-19 vaccine development and mRNA vaccines offer unique opportunities to explore in developing vaccines against bacteria.”

Related: The crucial role of vaccines in the return to normal life

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