Statement on New Universal Flu Vaccine Development Grand Challenge
The new $12 million Ending the Pandemic Threat: A Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lucy and Larry Page is an important and necessary step toward finding a game-changing solution to end the threat of flu, according to experts at the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin), a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake across the world. This challenge invites researchers from any discipline to submit innovative ideas for safe, effective, affordable flu vaccines.
The Sabin Vaccine Institute has 25 years of experience catalyzing vaccine innovation through collaboration and partnerships. Bruce Gellin, M.D., M.P.H., Sabin’s president of Global Immunization and lead on influenza efforts, welcomed today’s announcement with the following statement:
“The Grand Challenge is a strong example of how we can invigorate influenza research and stimulate interest to accelerate the development of a long-lasting, universal flu vaccine. The Gates Foundation and Page Family are right to encourage innovative approaches by the world’s best thinkers across a variety of disciplines— beyond the traditional flu community.
“We need a better flu vaccine as soon as possible. As an extraordinarily harsh flu season wanes in the United States, Americans may think they can breathe a sigh of relief. But flu season never really ends. The work to prepare for the next flu season — and the next pandemic — is ongoing. Despite the medical advancements and innovations of the 100 years that have passed since the 1918 Spanish flu killed between 50 million and 100 million people, infecting up to a quarter of the global population, the world is wholly unprepared for the next influenza pandemic.
“Today most routine childhood vaccines are more than 90 percent effective, yet this season’s flu vaccine was only 36 percent effective. A universal flu vaccine that is as safe, effective, affordable and widely used as our childhood vaccines, which have erased diseases that used to be a part of every child’s life, could make flu a distant memory. Vaccine development — particularly for a complex virus like influenza — is challenging. But this shared global quest is essential to improve — and save — the lives of millions of people around the world.
“Alongside independent efforts such as the Grand Challenge, Sabin has embarked on a three-year initiative to help move the world closer to ending the threat of flu. Our work will focus on fostering innovative approaches from diverse disciplines to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine. We will be an innovation broker, building bridges, creating networks and inviting disruptive thinkers to the table to explore new angles that complement, and challenge, traditional biomedical research in order to spur the next breakthrough.”
Learn more about Sabin's flu work
About the Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a nonprofit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. For more information, visit www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.