For decades we have seen unparalleled progress in vaccine development, with more than 260 vaccines in the development pipeline to treat and prevent diseases. As part of this greater dialogue on vaccines, leading minds – from public health officials to the medical and scientific community – convened in Philadelphia to discuss the critical role of vaccines in warding off disease and the innovative science powering new breakthroughs.
During this conversation led by The Atlantic, health officials, doctors and researchers alike stressed the value of vaccines in preventing the spread of illnesses and, in many places around the world, eliminating deadly infectious diseases. “The boundaries are endless of what we can do now,” said Leonard Friedland, vice president and director of scientific affairs and public health vaccines North America at GSK. Friedland also pointed to the “game changers” in vaccine development and the integral value of clinical trials.
This new era of preventative and therapeutic vaccines has instilled a sense of optimism and duty in both Ruxandra Draghia, vice president of public health and scientific affairs at Merck Global Vaccines, and Raul Isturiz, vice president and head of North America region at Pfizer Vaccines Medical. Isturiz shared his personal journey living overseas and the stark contrast between treatments in Venezuela and the United States. He became “convinced that vaccine preventable diseases are A: preventable and B: need to be prevented by us.”
While 16 diseases are now preventable in the United States as a result of childhood vaccines, vaccine creation must exist outside of crisis response. “We have to remember the importance of these vaccines in helping to protect people from vaccine preventable diseases,” says Draghia.