In 2018, the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Group tackled the challenge of a universal influenza vaccines – a vaccine that is safe and highly effective; a vaccine that works in the young and the old, and in everyone between; a vaccine that is protective against any viral strain that might arise; and a vaccine that confers lifelong immunity. The launch of the Group coincided with the 100th anniversary of the world-wide Spanish influenza epidemic, which infected an estimated 500 million people and killed as many as 50 million of them. In a more typical year, when the impact of the circulating strain of influenza is not so extraordinary, the virus still causes an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 deaths worldwide, most of them in adults age 65 or older. The Group developed the following three Big Ideas to accelerate the development of a universal influenza vaccine. The aim is to achieve lifelong protection against the disease, with the goal of creating a universal influenza vaccine to protect everyone. To accomplish this ambitious goal, the Group proposed:
- the creation of an entity to spearhead this initiative;
- the advancement of a research and development agenda that actively seeks to broaden the range of scientific perspectives contributing to transformational changes in the pursuit of a licensed universal influenza vaccine; and,
- the development and implementation of a communications strategy explicitly designed to reinforce the urgency of the global need for a universal influenza vaccine.
About the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science Policy Group
The Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group brings together senior leaders across many disciplines to examine some of the most challenging vaccine-related issues and drive impactful change. Members are influential, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who vigorously probe a single topic each year and develop actionable recommendations to advance innovative ideas for the development and distribution of vaccines, as well as evidence-based and cost-effective approaches to immunization. The Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group (the Group) was founded in 2018, originating from a partnership with the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Aspen Institute. Emerging from each of these meetings is a set of “Big Ideas”- the Group’s recommendations to bring thought leadership, innovation and transformative changes to the space of vaccines and immunization.