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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Private sector, government and academia gather to tackle barriers in vaccine value chain

Health Industry Hub | May 24, 2024 |

Pharma News: An ‘invite only’ vaccine thought leadership event, aimed at addressing gaps in Australia’s vaccine ecosystem and maximising the nation’s economic potential through R&D, manufacturing and implementation, was held in Sydney this week.

With less than 2% of the Australian health budget being spent on prevention, policy makers place much greater emphasis and resourcing on treating than preventing disease. The 2024-25 Federal Budget papers indicate a continued decline in funding for immunisations, unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic response. Notably, there was also an absence of any budget allocations for the Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).

Reflecting on the key takeaways from the Vaccine Value Chain Conference, Professor Jodie McVernon, Public Health Physician and Epidemiologist, told Health Industry Hub, “Multiple sessions highlighted the concerning growth in vaccine hesitancy nationally and globally, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Engaging communities early in the development process and ensuring equitable access to both trusted information and vaccine products will be essential to achieving our shared goal of making sure vaccines save lives.”

In Australian, the main drivers of vaccination hesitancy are confidence and complacency. Confidence is defined as ‘trust’ in the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, the health system that delivers them, and the motivations of policy-makers who decide on the need of vaccines. Complacency exists where perceived risks of vaccine-preventable diseases are low and vaccination is not deemed a necessary preventive action.

Professor McVernon added, “The conference was highly effective in bringing together experts and knowledge across the whole value chain and highlighting the need for an end-to-end national strategy, with a related investment plan so everyone knows where and how they can contribute most effectively.”

Dr Branwen Morgan, Research Director, Health and Biosecurity at CSIRO, emphasised the critical role of vaccines in combating antimicrobial resistance.

“There are some clear gaps in end-to-end vaccine development that include the ability to manufacture small amounts of high quality vaccines for early phase clinical trials. We need more and better data for decision making that includes determining whether a vaccine will be commercially viable versus delivering societal impact.

“There are lengthy (multi-year) delays from vaccine product approval to when the vaccines are available and accessible and this can adversely affect the decision for a vaccine manufacturer to register a product in the Australian market,” Dr Morgan highlighted.

Professor Brett Sutton, Director of Health & BioSecurity at CSIRO, underscored the importance of collaboration in the vaccine development process.

“The meeting confirmed a shared vision that populations can be protected and have their health and wellbeing enhanced through a vibrant, efficient, and timely vaccine development pathway. It also reinforced that connectedness of effort and funding across the value chain is a shared challenge; and that we won’t maximise the profound impact of vaccines without putting communities at the heart of engagement.”

The conference was staged by Biointelect, with sponsorship from CSIRO, NSW government, VIC government, Pfizer, Sanofi, GSK, Novavax, Moderna, amongst others.

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