In 1980 the Assembly of the World Health Organization approved a declaration in which smallpox was considered eradicated, the first and the only disease eradicated in the world to date.
Smallpox had killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century, and its eradication through vaccination is a collective success story for humanity, scientific research, and medicine.
But there are many other success stories thanks to global vaccination strategies, from the eradication of polio in Western countries to the drastic reduction in the incidence and mortality of diseases such as measles, tetanus, pertussis or diphtheria. It is estimated that more than 15 million deaths from measles have been prevented since 2000 or more than 80% of newborns are already vaccinated against tetanus.
Vaccines prevent more than 3 million worldwide deaths annually, 60 every hour, caused by 26 diseases. And we continuously work on improving vaccines such as influenza, Covid-19 or malaria, a disease that affects more than 200 million people in the world and causes 600,000 deaths annually. They have been transformative tools of global health in the past, present and future and not only should they be valued against infectious diseases but they can also be the answer to diseases such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis.
What new challenges face global vaccination and pandemic strategies? Is funding for vaccine research enough? What is the role of the different funders (public, private or philanthropic) and what role should they have? What needs to be done to achieve equal access to vaccines around the world?
Pedro Alonso, Director of the World Malaria Program of the World Health Organization and member of the Scientific Committee of the ”la Caixa” Foundation.
Regina Rabinovich, Director of the Malaria Elimination Initiative of the Barcelona Institute of Global Health, ISGlobal, and resident professor at Harvard University.
Josep Corbella, LA VANGUARDIA journalist specialized in science and health.