• Data and product needs for influenza immunization programs in low- and middle-income countries: Rationale and main conclusions of the WHO preferred product characteristics for next-generation influenza vaccines

      Neuzil, Kathleen; Bresee, Joseph; Hoz, Fernando de la; Johansen, Kari; Karron, Ruth A.; Krishnan, Anand; Madhi, Shabir A.; Mangtani, Punam; Spiro, David J.; Ortiz, Justin R. (2017-08)
      In 2017, WHO convened a working group of global experts to develop the Preferred Product Characteristics (PPC) for Next-Generation Influenza Vaccines. PPCs are intended to encourage innovation in vaccine development. They describe WHO preferences for parameters of vaccines, in particular their indications, target groups, implementation strategies, and clinical data needed for assessment of safety and efficacy. PPCs are shaped by the global unmet public health need in a priority disease area for which WHO encourages vaccine development. These preferences reflect WHO’s mandate to promote the development of vaccines with high public health impact and suitability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). The target audience is all entities intending to develop or to achieve widespread adoption of a specific influenza vaccine product in these settings. The working group determined that existing influenza vaccines are not well suited for LMIC use. While many developed country manufactures and research funders prioritize influenza vaccine products for use in adults and the elderly, most LMICs do not have sufficiently strong health systems to deliver vaccines to these groups. Policy makers from LMICs are expected to place higher value on vaccines indicated for prevention of severe illness, however the clinical development of influenza vaccines focuses on demonstrating prevention of any influenza illness. Many influenza vaccine products do not meet WHO standards for programmatic suitability of vaccines, which introduces challenges when vaccines are used in low-resource settings. And finally, current vaccines do not integrate well with routine immunization programs in LMICs, given age of vaccine licensure, arbitrary expiration dates timed for temperate country markets, and the need for year-round immunization in countries with prolonged influenza seasonality. While all interested parties should refer to the full PPC document for details, in this article we highlight data needs for new influenza vaccines to better demonstrate the value proposition in LMICs.
    • Report on WHO meeting on immunizations in older adults: Geneva, Switzerland, 22-23 March 2017

      Aquado, M. Teresa; Barratt, Jane; Beard, John R.; Blomberg, Bonnie; Chen, Wilbur H.; Hickling, Julian; Hyde, Terri B.; Jit, Mark; Jones, Rebecca, M.Sc., Ph.D.; Poland, Gregory A.; et al. (Elsevier, 2018)
      Many industrialized countries have implemented routine immunization policies for older adults, but similar strategies have not been widely implemented in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In March 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting to identify policies and activities to promote access to vaccination of older adults, specifically in LMICs. Participants included academic and industry researchers, funders, civil society organizations, implementers of global health interventions, and stakeholders from developing countries with adult immunization needs. These experts reviewed vaccine performance in older adults, the anticipated impact of adult vaccination programs, and the challenges and opportunities of building or strengthening an adult and older adult immunization platforms. Key conclusions of the meeting were that there is a need for discussion of new opportunities for vaccination of all adults as well as for vaccination of older adults, as reflected in the recent shift by WHO to a life-course approach to immunization; that immunization in adults should be viewed in the context of a much broader model based on an individual’s abilities rather than chronological age; and that immunization beyond infancy is a global priority that can be successfully integrated with other interventions to promote healthy ageing. As WHO is looking ahead to a global Decade of Healthy Ageing starting in 2020, it will seek to define a roadmap for interdisciplinary collaborations to integrate immunization with improving access to preventive and other healthcare interventions for adults worldwide.