What are monoclonal antibodies – and can they treat Covid-19?
For more than 30 years, monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we treat many diseases. Researchers think they are also one of the most promising treatments for Covid-19. Here's why.
- 7 October 2020
- 9 min read
- by Wellcome
1. What are monoclonal antibodies?
Monoclonal antibodies are a class of medicines that have transformed the way we prevent and treat diseases, from cancer and diseases of the immune system, to childhood viral infections.
They are not chemical compounds, as most drugs are. They are based on natural antibodies – which are proteins that the body produces to defend itself against disease – but are created in the lab and mass-produced in factories. This is why they’re sometimes called ‘designer antibodies’ – they are tailor-made to the disease they treat.
The first monoclonal antibody product was licensed more than 30 years ago. Since then, millions of people have benefitted from more than 100 such treatments. Around 50 of these were brought to market in the past six years alone.
This is one of the fastest-growing fields in biomedical research, and an increasingly important segment of the pharmaceutical market – last year, seven of the top 10 best-selling drugs were monoclonal antibodies.
2. How do they work?
Antibodies are proteins produced by our immune system and are one of the main ways the body defends itself against diseases.
They work by binding to their specific targets – for example viruses, bacteria or cancerous cells – and making them harmless. They block the action of the target, or they flag it as foreign so that other parts of our immune system can clear the ‘invaders’ away.
Monoclonal antibodies work in the same way too.
They bind to their specific target, without harming anything else in their way. This target is not always a ‘foreign intruder’, like a virus. Antibodies can be designed to attach to different molecules in the body, for example, to turn down the immune response when it overreacts; this phenomenon, which also happens with some Covid-19 patients, is called a ‘cytokine storm’.
Due to their numerous applications, monoclonal antibodies have been safely and effectively used to treat a growing number of diseases, some of which were difficult to treat in the past.
3. How are they made?
Making monoclonal antibodies is complex and expensive.
First, scientists extract the relevant antibodies from human blood. Then they replicate and manufacture them in large quantities.
Most monoclonal antibodies are produced in Chinese hamster ovary cells which are typically grown in large bioreactors for around 10 to 15 days. The resulting antibodies are then purified and packaged so they can be easily administered.
This whole process takes a long time and uses costly materials. Some estimate that the cost of producing one gram of marketed monoclonal antibodies is between $95 and $200; this doesn’t include the costs of research and development, or packaging, delivering and administering the medicine. The costs are even higher for start-up companies.
Manufacturers are looking into ways to reduce production costs, for example through novel technologies and using alternatives to hamster cells (such as algae, yeast and plants) that would change the way these drugs are made.
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4. What diseases are they used for?
The majority of the monoclonal antibodies on the market are for noncommunicable diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
In the past few decades, cancer immunotherapies have saved the lives of millions of people around the world. Monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we treat multiple cancers, including breast cancer, for which the drug Herceptin has been a game changer.
Out of more than 100 licensed monoclonal antibodies, only seven are for treating and preventing infectious diseases – though many more are in development, including candidates for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Monoclonal antibodies could have a huge impact on the way we treat and prevent infectious diseases. And there are already promising signs.
Two experimental antibody therapies against Ebola are being used to great effect as part of an emergency access programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
And several antibodies that can act against different strains of HIV are also in development.
5. Can monoclonal antibodies treat Covid-19?
For the past 30 years, monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we treat various diseases – they proved to be more effective, better tolerated and easier to deliver than other treatments.
Researchers are optimistic that monoclonal antibodies could help prevent and treat early infections of Covid-19 too.
Some of the advantages they offer are:
- they can specifically target the SARS-CoV-2 virus because they originate in the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19; this would potentially make them more effective than other drugs.
- they can be rapidly isolated and manufactured – since the pandemic started, more than 70 monoclonal antibody products for Covid-19 are now in development.
- they can provide rapid protection against infection – once administered, monoclonal antibodies enter the bloodstream straight away and offer immediate protection for a few weeks or months. Vaccines take a few weeks to have an effect, but usually provide long-term protection. This is why researchers are optimistic that monoclonal antibodies could complement vaccines in helping to contain the pandemic.
- they have the potential to treat infected patients or prevent infection in all individuals, including the elderly and young children, and immunocompromised people – some of whom can’t receive a vaccine, or for whom vaccines don’t always work as well.
6. How many monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 are in development?
Since the start of the pandemic researchers have been rapidly evaluating existing drugs and developing new treatments – including monoclonal antibodies – to treat Covid-19 patients.
Several monoclonal antibodies that are licensed or in development for other diseases are in clinical trials to see if they have an effect on Covid-19 patients. One of these is adalimumab, used to treat arthritis and Crohn's disease; the University of Oxford recently launched a trial to look at its potential to treat people in care homes, funded by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.
Researchers have also been rapidly identifying monoclonal antibodies that specifically target SARS-CoV-2. More than 70 such products are already in development.
The pharmaceutical company Lilly, in collaboration with AbCellera, launched the first human study of a potential Covid-19 antibody treatment in May-June this year. Other safety clinical trials followed, including studies by AstraZeneca, Celltrion and Regeneron.
7. When will Covid-19 monoclonal antibodies be available, and who will get them?
The speed of research into Covid-19 treatments has been unprecedented.
One of the advantages of monoclonal antibodies is that clinical trials can happen even more rapidly; because these are based on natural antibodies, not chemical compounds, safety trials take less time.
In less than four months since the start of their clinical trials for Covid-19 antibody-products, Lilly and Regeneron published early results showing encouraging signs. Results from other clinical studies are expected later this autumn.
Knowing if any of these antibody treatments are safe and effective for treating or preventing Covid-19 is only the first step.
Making them available to patients will depend on many other things, such as manufacturing capacity – how quickly large quantities of the effective treatment can be made. It will also depend on price – who will be able to afford to buy them.
The ACT-Accelerator is a ground breaking collaboration created for exactly this purpose – to make sure that any Covid-19 treatments, vaccines and tests will be accessible to those who need them most, across the world, not only in the countries that can afford to pay the highest costs.
8. Are monoclonal antibodies expensive?
Monoclonal antibodies are more complex and expensive to produce than other types of drugs. This makes them some of the most expensive drugs in the world, unaffordable for most of the world’s population.
The median price for monoclonal antibody treatments in the US ranges from $15,000 to $200,000 a year. Although drug prices vary greatly worldwide, companies that market many of these treatments focus primarily on high-income countries, where prices are the highest.
Biosimilar products are one way to reduce production costs and make these innovative treatments cheaper. Once the original monoclonal antibody product is off patent, companies can create similar, but cheaper products. An example is Canmab – a biosimilar version of the breast cancer drug Herceptin – which sells for $100–$200 per dose in India. This is significantly less than the $1,800 price per dose in the US.
Another way companies can make monoclonal antibodies cheaper is by introducing second brands which can only be sold in low- and middle-income countries. One example is Herclon, another brand that Herceptin is sold as.
9. Are they available everywhere?
Antibody treatments are not widely available, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Although 85 per cent of the global population live in these countries, they account for less than 20 per cent of the global sales of monoclonal antibodies.
Very few licensed monoclonal antibodies are even registered in low- and middle-income countries.
That’s true even for some infectious diseases that affect developing countries more than the rest of the world. For example, 99 per cent of deaths caused by respiratory syncytial virus are in low- and middle-income countries. But 99 per cent of the sales of Synagis, an antibody-based preventive, are in the US and Europe.
And the few monoclonal antibodies that are registered in low- and middle-income countries are often unavailable through the public health system, so unaffordable to most people.
India is one of the few middle-income countries that stands out, mainly because of its local manufacturing capacity – it has more than 100 companies that make biosimilar products. Still, people in India only have access to a fraction of the antibody products from the US market.
10. What will it take to make monoclonal antibodies more available and affordable?
Millions of people around the world could benefit from existing monoclonal antibody treatments and those in development – including the ones for Covid-19, which could help bring the pandemic to an end.
These innovative products are not currently accessible for most of the world’s population. That could change if governments, the bio-pharmaceutical industry, global health organisations and funders work together.
Some of the things they could do to make monoclonal antibodies more available across the world include:
- spreading the word about how valuable antibody therapies can be for treating a range of diseases, and advocate for greater access
- making it easier to register antibody therapies in low- and middle-income countries
- developing guidelines for monoclonal antibodies to make sure that these products are designed with the needs of local populations in mind.
To make monoclonal antibodies more affordable, they should:
- invest in innovative technologies that could lower production costs
- create new business models that enable different market approaches in low-, middle- and high-income countries
- establish collaborations between public, private and philanthropic organisations to focus on the needs of the developing countries.
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Nozanin is a secondary school teacher and lives in the relatively prosperous region of Sughd, with better access to maternal health services than is found in other regions. However, medical costs are excessive for most people in the country,…
Some countries are already offering COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers and may expand this to children in the near future. Here’s what we know about vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups.
This new sub-variant of the delta has gained a foothold in the UK.
Reports of Guillain–Barré syndrome or other neurological complications following COVID-19 vaccination are understandably worrying, but the first study to robustly investigate such links has found that the risk is much greater after COVID-19…
Before immunisation for pertussis, or whooping cough, became routine, it killed twice as many children as measles and polio combined. High vaccine coverage is essential to keep that threat at bay.
Togo is blazing a digital trail on the continent, looking to online tools, including digital vaccine passports, to curtail COVID-19.
Dr. Folake Olayinka speaks about overcoming gender-related barriers to immunization.
As India celebrated its one-billionth COVID-19 vaccination, #VaccinesWork caught up with Anuradha Gupta, Gavi’s Deputy CEO and an Indian public health veteran.
The whole family approach is helping Lagos State tackle multiple disease outbreaks and helping families lead healthier lives.
After a halting start to its immunisation campaign, Pakistan has shifted into high gear, now administering a million doses a day. #VaccinesWork spoke to national health leaders and spent a morning at a rural vaccination centre to find out what…
Research in the UK shows COVID-19 symptoms can be similar to the common cold. So, how can you tell the difference? Here, genetic epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explains the latest data and what you need to know.
Community health nurses in Ghana are on a mission to reverse the decline in routine immunisation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before immunisation for diphtheria became routine, it was a major killer of children and adults worldwide. High vaccine coverage is essential to keep that threat at bay.
Social distancing has shielded us from other respiratory viruses – but that's not necessarily a good thing.
With several countries making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers, teachers and other frontline staff, anti-vaccination protesters have co-opted the feminist slogan “my body, my choice” from reproductive rights and bodily autonomy…
The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines has brought hope for the country’s education system.
For the Gosha community, vaccines are not only protecting them from COVID-19, but are also bringing development to their area.
Ahead of the COP26 climate summit, the World Health Organisation flags ten priority actions necessary to protect human and planetary health.
Welcome to Pandemica, a world where twice as many people die and life as we once knew it does not return for anyone.
First flight facilitated by the Hope Consortium touches down in Belgium with large delivery of ultra-cold chain freezers for onward shipment to 21 African countries.
In the face of mounting logistical hitches, ordinary Nigerians are rallying behind health workers to ensure the success of COVID-19 vaccine rollout across the country.
The pharma company Merck has applied for emergency use authorisation for an experimental COVID-19 antiviral treatment but, even if approved, such therapies won’t replace vaccines.
Identifying people who have recovered from COVID-19 could provide a way to accelerate protection of populations against the disease.
The sixth annual Heroines of Health Gala celebrated seven women fighting to improve the health of their communities. From mobilising nurses in Beirut after the blast in August last year to helping communities in Ethiopia affected by the civil…
The reasons for these results have yet to be confirmed – but maths may explain the phenomenon.
The sports and entertainment communities of Eswatini are banking on COVID-19 vaccines to turn their fortunes around.
Dr Peter J. Hotez’ timely and important book underlines the fact that we need vaccine diplomacy now more than ever to overcome threats to our health.
Going door-to-door, local community leaders are mobilising mothers to have their children immunised.
Skyrocketing prices for sanitary products, supply shortages and lockdowns are combining to make it harder and harder for girls and women in Nigeria to manage their periods.
The WHO and the manufacturers of the vaccine will be rallying countries, particularly those with high malaria burdens, to adopt the vaccine.
Climate change is set to transform global health. A new study has found that droughts – one product of extreme weather exacerbated by climate change – may already be impacting rates of vaccination.
Kenya is aiming to eliminate malaria entirely by 2030, with the world’s first malaria vaccine forming an important tool in its arsenal. The country’s youth is playing an important role.
The WHO recommendation on the RTS,S vaccine could protect millions of children across Africa.
These discoveries could help us treat a variety of conditions in the future – including chronic pain.
Authorities in Kenyan border regions have come up with an innovative way to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations among herder communities: combine it with animal vaccination.
It is science that we must once again turn to so that we can remain one step ahead of the virus. Increased investment in ongoing vaccine R&D efforts will enable COVAX to deliver on its promises and ensure that our vaccines remain safe and…
Greater urgency is needed in the response to the pandemic, to end AIDS and to end COVID-19.
How the 'smoker's paradox' went up in a puff of smoke.
Hand sanitiser has become a regular feature of our lives since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but how effective is it – and is it a good idea to be so clean?
Vaccine hesitancy is “not a stable trait,” concludes a new American study, which found that a majority of initially hesitant respondents shifted their stance in favour of getting the jab.
Vaccines are still extremely effective at preventing severe disease. Waning antibody levels doesn’t always translate to lessening immunity.
A new study suggests that more than half of women may have experienced irregularities in their periods after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Despite the havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic on health systems worldwide, governments’ work to bring immunisation programmes back on track is paying off.
Routine immunisation took a hit in Nigeria thanks to the pandemic. Thanks to the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for health workers, mothers are returning to immunisation clinics.
Domestic dogs have been shown to be the only species necessary to maintain rabies across most of Africa. This means that dog vaccination should control the disease in all species.
With COVAX stepping up deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines in South Sudan, there is a steady increase in demand for the jab.
Researchers have identified seven symptoms that are highly predictive of a positive COVID-19 test.
Youth organisations in the DRC are doing their bit to change perspectives towards vaccinations.
The Ugandan government is on a drive to vaccinate teachers to ensure the reopening of schools across the country.
Careful planning enabled this small, mountainous Himalayan country to vaccinate 90% of its adult population in three weeks.
On Thursday 23 September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, global health leaders gathered to discuss gender equality in healthcare worldwide. Here’s what happened.
Although children are less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults, there are still risks associated with infection.
The COVAX vaccine procurement facility has run a remarkable race, but needs stable funding for long-term success.
The pandemic undermined women and girls’ fundamental rights and we must learn lessons about its impacts to build back better and ensure these groups aren't left behind. Empowering women and girls has proven to increase the health and well-being…
COVID-19 is hitting nomads in Kenya’s Rift Valley hard. They are turning away from traditional medicine and customs as a result.
Although people who have recovered from COVID-19 may be less likely to catch it again, there are many reasons to avoid becoming infected in the first place.
New discovery could help scientists develop more targeted drugs and vaccines.
Israeli data adds to mounting evidence that taking a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy is safe.
Delivering COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries is only the first step in being able to vaccinate the world and bring this pandemic to an end. It’s essential to get vaccines from tarmacs into the arms of people living in last…
The arrival of cholera on European shores in the 19th Century helped kick off the long path towards modern global health institutions and diplomacy. However, these beginnings were anything but fair.
Just 0.2% of COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered to lower-income countries through COVAX expired before they could be administered, estimated to be a significantly lower amount than wealthier countries.
With support from Gavi, WHO and UNICEF, Togo is introducing various mechanisms to turn the tide of COVID-19.
The White House is calling a virtual COVID-19 Summit on Wednesday, 22 September. Its targets for global vaccination are ambitious and essential as we work together to defeat COVID-19.
Thomas Sorenson, Senior Manager in the Cold Chain Unit, UNICEF Supply Division, explains the work behind the scenes to roll-out the largest ultra-cold chain deployment in history.
Four UN agencies have compiled a first-of-its-kind Compendium of guidance on health and environment to help policymakers save millions of lives. The Compendium pulls together 500 actions and recommendations on everything from clean water and…
In Kisumu, which is still recovering from the after-effects of flooding, authorities are working to bring vaccines to the beleaguered residents.
In Malawi urban areas have more unimmunised zero-dose children than rural regions. The government is working hard to close the immunisation gap.
The 76th UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) will take place from 14-30 September 2021. Could we see a breakthrough in the fight for universal vaccine access?
Although it’s not clear how this compares to the full dose licensed worldwide for emergency use, a quarter of a dose produces an equivalent immune response to immunity from infection.
Nepal has distributed more than 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine according to a considered allocation schedule based on humane, inclusive, epidemiological good sense. The country’s future safety depends on the willingness of the rest of the…
A study in Malawi found that TCVs are 84% efficacious among children 6 months to 15 years of age – the first such evidence among African children.
While vaccines have helped save millions of lives in this pandemic, the ever-evolving virus has spread so far that it may be here to stay.
In Lagos, Nigeria's most populous state, COVID-19 survivors are encouraging more Nigerians to be vaccinated.
The war against Boko Haram in Cameroon's northern region and the struggle against armed secessionists in the west have taken a significant toll on vaccine roll-out.
With COVID-19 still ongoing, viruses like Nipah are nipping at its heels as the potential next pandemic threat.
As the African continent battles a third wave of coronavirus infections, access to reproductive health and rights is an ongoing challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly increased the number of teenage mothers across Africa. Inadequate childcare support and stigma can prevent teenage mothers accessing routine immunisation and nutritional support for their infants. Girl Effect…
Even though many wealthy countries are planning to roll out booster doses, a Lancet review has concluded that the standard COVID-19 vaccination regimen is highly effective, even against the Delta variant.
Kenya has ramped up its COVID-19 vaccination programme, expanding the list of who can get vaccinated.
While the supply is lower than predictions earlier this year, wealthy countries and manufacturers hold the power to improve supply.
mRNA vaccines are the first synthetic vaccines, meaning they are made outside of a living cell. But so are lots of things we consume every day, such as vitamin C pills and other dietary supplements.
The Sierra Leonean documentary is a complex portrait of courageous solidarity amid contagion.
The British artist John D’oh uses humour and wit to drive home messages about vaccines and other measures such as hand-washing and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Launch of vaccine trial marks “significant milestone” towards beating this debilitating disease.
A study looking at health issues such as stroke or seizures after COVID-19 vaccination showed that vaccines weren’t linked to any significant number of side effects.
Data from the UK suggests double vaccination lowers the risk of ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, as well as reducing hospitalisations and the severity of the initial illness.
Gavi has supported a major expansion in yellow fever diagnostic capacity in Africa over the past three years. The results show just how much improving diagnostics can have a cost-effective yet significant impact on immunisation programmes.
More often than not, the road to a meaningful triumph is a bumpy one.
While most people jumped at the chance to get their COVID-19 vaccine, some have been more hesitant over concerns about safety. Here we explain all the checks and balances in place to make sure the vaccines are safe.
Additional G20 support can make the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access facility a success. Failure to achieve equitable access would mean more lives lost, broken health-care systems, even deadlier and more transmissible variants, and a pandemic with…
Getting market women and pen-pen drivers vaccinated is critical to tackling COVID-19 in Liberia.
Getting COVID-19 vaccines out to countries isn’t just about ensuring supply – a major stumbling block can be their ‘absorptive capacity,’ or the ability to deliver the volume of vaccine coming their way. Here, we talk to Alex de Jonquieres,…
COVID-19 boosted sales of antibiotic formulations used in adults and adolescents in India. Antibiotics should not be prescribed to treat viral diseases. Misuse of antibiotics can result in drug-resistant infections.
Brazilian scientists have found that transmission of hantavirus, a deadly infection, could be reduced by 45% if Brazil restores its Atlantic Forest to levels mandated by its Native Vegetation Protection Law. Hantavirus, spresd by contact with…
Distance and fear of the pandemic has put many parents off from taking their children to health clinics in Zimbabwe. So one converted taxi is taking the clinic to them.
The Marburg virus will be present wherever the Egyptian Rousette bat occurs.
A rapidly mutating coronavirus variant called C.1.2 is generating headlines around the world. Here’s what we know about it so far.
Pandemic ceasefires offer an opportunity to expand vaccination efforts, experts say. But negotiation is tricky.
A new study from Israel suggests the risk of a breakthrough infection among vaccinated people was higher than among people who’d previously had COVID-19 but had not been vaccinated. However the greatest benefit came to those who'd previously…
A universal vaccine has been described as the ‘holy grail’ – but how close are we to getting one?
Children can get long COVID, but it seems to be less common than in adults. And they tend to recover quicker.
More than a quarter of a million infants in low- and middle-income countries are predicted to have died in 2020 due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
With evidence showing the COVID virus is airborne, it's no coincidence many outbreaks in schools have occurred in winter – when windows are closed.
In Pointe-Noire city, the Republic of the Congo's economic capital, a group of volunteers working as town criers are winning the shouting match against the COVID-19 'infodemic.'
With COVID-19 stretching the healthcare system in many parts of Nigeria, health workers and community leaders have to go the extra mile to ensure vaccines reach victims of the country’s latest cholera outbreak.
Malawi’s Ministry of Health recently conducted a nationwide polio vaccine catch up campaign targeting 1.8 million children who had previously missed out on the vaccine.
Children are increasingly falling sick worldwide, but existing poor health and inadequate access to health care means the most vulnerable kids are most at risk.
A new study suggests the RTS,S malaria vaccine alone is as effective as preventive antimalarials; together they could save thousands of lives.
Wildfire smoke has been linked to higher COVID-19 mortality rates, threatening to compound what is already one of the worst burdens of coronavirus infections and deaths in the world. At particular risk are Indigenous populations, who suffer…
Kenya’s community workers fight to continue vaccinating children during the pandemic to avoid the reversal of historic gains.
A public health scholar based in New Delhi explains how India has emerged from the massive spike in COVID-19 cases, even as the country braces for a new wave.
Experts point to a more fundamental right to be protected from the disease, particularly as it continues to spread primarily among the unvaccinated.
Aid agencies in Goma are joining efforts to contain cholera in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after the eruption of the Nyiragongo.
As New Zealand enters another lockdown after detecting a single COVID case, it's time to consider whether stringent zero COVID strategies are feasible in the long term.
In the absence of good vaccines, doctors treating epidemic diseases must rely on cumbersome PPE as their one safety net. At least modern hazmat suits, unlike the 17th century plague doctor's all-leather outfit, actually work.
COVID-19 has caused a decline in the delivery of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines that protect girls from cervical cancer. Anuradha Gupta, the Deputy CEO of Gavi, explains what we must do to create more access to these vaccines.
For the waster pickers of Bulawayo, COVID-19 has posed risks to both their health and their incomes. Hope for a vaccine is reaching fever pitch.
Using big data and deep learning, machines and systems are offering new ways of responding to a pandemic.
Rich countries are now considering giving booster doses to vulnerable individuals, having fully-vaccinated most adults. Is this wise?
The way we live can shape the evolution of pathogens, for better or worse.
COVID-19 variants threaten to undermine global vaccine programmes unless we accelerate the pace of delivery and rise to the challenge of global deployment.
The news is full of stories of people who refused the jab who died of COVID.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic hit routine immunisation hard in Zimbabwe, but thanks to the hard work of local health workers children are now getting the protection they need.
Many COVID-19 antibody tests are not designed to specifically detect antibodies that develop as a result of vaccination, and thus cannot show whether antibodies are of the right quantity or quality for protection against infection or illness.
Access to routine immunisation and primary health care is changing the lives of children in Makoko, Nigeria’s largest coastal slum.
Could artificial intelligence succeed where people have failed in helping people overcome their fears about vaccines?
Vaccines are among modern medicine’s greatest innovations, allowing billions of people to lead healthy lives. But stopping outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease – and not only COVID-19 – depends on achieving critical mass with immunization…
We all need to know about the science of COVID as we battle through pandemic, but the ultimate story will lie in how it changed our society.
New study finds TCV prevents 85% of cases among vaccinated children in Bangladesh, which has one of the highest typhoid burdens in the world.
To improve routine immunisation, Nigeria is implementing the Accelerated Action for Impact (AAI) initiative.
Breakthrough infections are to be expected, but it doesn’t mean the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t working.
Being immunocompromised appears to affect the vaccine response, but this seems to vary depending on the causes of the person's low immunity.
The latest IPCC report emphasises the inevitability of some degree of climate change. The human health impact of this should not be ignored.
The narrative of the Broad Street pump is the story of a vital epidemiological discovery; it’s also a story about discovery: it has the tidy, conclusive quality of a fable about science. But in the years after its discovery, John Snow’s theory of…
Health workers, community leaders and the Ministry of Health are hard at work trying to contain the damage COVID-19 is causing routine immunisation in the DRC.
COVID restrictions have prevented the spread of other respiratory viruses too. As these are lifted, the UK government has warned parents of a delayed surge in infections.
The best single predictor of vaccine uptake per US state is not political affiliation, but the share of the population that believes the human race has always existed. Such findings do not bode well for the global effort to boost vaccination…
The sooner we start using booster jabs, the more likely it is that we will need them.
Respiratory viruses, such as influenza and SARS-CoV-2, while spread primarily by respiratory droplets can also be spread by contaminated hands touching the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.
In 2014, Nigeria escaped an Ebola pandemic in the span of 93 days because of the bravery and quick response of health care workers in Lagos. As the world fights through the COVID-19 pandemic, the film 93 Days – though grim – is a hopeful reminder…
In rural Zambia, clinics and health centres rely on a limited number of medical personnel to run immunisation programmes, which makes the support of community leaders vital.
Offit’s sobering inquiry into “one of the worst biological disasters in American history” is a work of unflinching investigative journalism which lands, finally, not as a whodunit, but as a tribute to modern systems of meticulous vaccine…
From clinical trials to population surveillance, these are the multilevel mechanisms that ensure vaccine safety – including the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
During a pandemic supply bottlenecks of essential medical products are almost inevitable, but with COVID-19 this has been further exacerbated by governments hoarding doses and imposing export bans.
Uganda is setting an example by including its estimated 1.4 million refugees in its COVID-19 vaccine programme, however there are still barriers to overcome.
As World War I reached its climax, a terrible influenza pandemic broke out. By summer 1919, it had claimed many more lives than the conflict – but the conflict, researchers say, helped create the conditions for the devastating spread of the so-…
The Savannah Innovation Hub teaches young women in Garissa County to counteract COVID-19 vaccine misinformation from groups like Al-Shabaab.
Abdullah and his family escaped genocidal violence in Myanmar in 2017, survived a diphtheria epidemic in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar and weathered the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in a Rohingya camp. Then, in December 2020, he returned to the…
Pakistan is one of two countries where wild poliovirus remains endemic making it essential that the entire country supports the successful implementation of every polio campaign. Women play a critical role, often working at polio’s frontline.
Vaccines against cancer may seem like a futuristic notion, but children around the world are already getting protection against two of the biggest causes of cervical and liver cancer: HPV and hepatitis B.
Just because face coverings aren't mandatory doesn't mean they're not protective – so here's how to ask someone to wear one.
This series cuts through the noise to help you catch up with the latest COVID-19 developments in an entertaining and digestible way.
While there was some initial reluctance to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Eastern Uganda, attitudes are changing fast.
BCG remains the only widely available vaccine for TB. Yet the development of a COVID-19 vaccine over the last year shows that there is capacity to rapidly create new vaccines.
Real-world data is starting shed light on the performance of COVID-19 vaccines in less than perfect conditions.
Dr Annie Kelly, writer and host of a new podcast which tells the story of the smallpox vaccine, talks to #VaccinesWork.
Mnookin’s 2011 investigation of the spread of anti-vax feeling is a pandemic-era must-read.
New data shows the impact COVID-19 is having on routine immunisation programmes worldwide, particularly in lower-income countries. We need action, now, to get routine immunisation programmes back on track and ensure that everyone, everywhere is…
Volunteers, including King Dakolo of the Epetiama kingdom, are sensitising and convincing people to accept the COVID-19 vaccine in Bayelsa State, Southern Nigeria.
Rather than translating their own COVID-19 vaccination successes into a renewed global push to end the pandemic, rich countries are becoming complacent while the rest of the world grows increasingly desperate. But the emergence of dangerous new…
#VaccinesWork spoke to nurse Fatmata Kamara* about how the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Sierra Leone is progressing.
How investigation into long COVID will help us create treatments.
Indemnity and liability was one of the thorniest problems COVAX had to solve to successfully roll out COVID-19 vaccines in lower-income countries. The solution is a world first, which could offer a model for future pandemics.
The widespread acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines in low- to middle-income countries should boost global coronavirus immunity, if distribution issues can be resolved.
Despite a second lockdown, outreach initiatives ensure continuation of Uganda’s routine child immunisation.
Dr John Nkengasong is a Cameroonian virologist and Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), which is working to strengthen the ability of Africa’s public health institutions to detect and respond to disease…
A philosopher of public health ponders whether taking your mask off on July 19 is like punching someone in the face or like riding a bike.
Yoshinobu Nagamine, Senior Donor Manager at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, describes the role contactless biometrics can play in accelerating vaccine delivery for those lacking formal identification.
If people feel a sense of duty to their local community, they're more likely to protect themselves and others by taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 has made local, home-grown production of vaccines a national priority in countries around the world. #VaccinesWork spoke to Professor Martins Emeje at Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to…
Comparisons with flu are unhelpful – these diseases need to be treated differently.
It may not be high tech, but it works. Kenyan community health volunteers use tracking books to ensure that children receive routine vaccinations.
Some viruses gradually become less virulent over time, but there's no guarantee that SARS-CoV-2 will follow that pattern.
The lambda variant ripped through Peru and is now spreading globally. But there is little evidence that it is more dangerous than the original variant.
COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last coronavirus we ever see. Scientists are already trying to make a one-size-fits-all vaccine to stop a future coronavirus epidemic in its tracks.
A large study suggests the influenza vaccine may reduce the risk of some of the worst consequences of COVID-19.
Community health volunteers collaborated with local structures in the slums to help inhabitants survive lockdown and stop the spread of disease.
If immunity is waning or ineffectual against new variants, then boosters could be needed – but there needs to be evidence that they're necessary.
Vaccine manufacturing doesn't come cheap. It depends heavily on support from developed countries. It also takes much more than relaxing intellectual property rights and a desire for vaccine equity.
Although related to the virus that caused the SARS pandemic in 2003, the COVID-19 virus has never seemed as deadly – until now.
One in three unable to properly wash hands at home during COVID-19 – WHO-UNICEF. Progress on water, sanitation and hygiene ‘must quadruple’ to meet 2030 target. Investment and prioritisation needed ‘at the highest levels’.
Will the pandemic go out with a fizzle or a bang? And what does “living with the virus” actually mean, and when will we get there?
We must seize this opportunity to shape our COVID-19 response as a chance to achieve better equity and social justice. What better way to do that than to focus on zero-dose children?
Early results from several studies have found that pets can pick up COVID-19 from their owner – but they are unlikely to be dangerous as a result.
India’s second wave of COVID-19 has devastated the country through a perfect storm of new variants, low vaccination uptake and a shortage of medical equipment and supplies. Here’s what we need to understand about the ongoing second wave to…
A vaccine that had previously been authorised by the Indian government ahead of phase 3 trials now show promising results. This could add to the global armoury of vaccines against COVID-19.
New mRNA tech transfer hub to be established in South Africa. Facility will provide training and licences for vaccine development. Less than one per cent in Africa have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities, not least those disadvantaging women and girls in low- and middle-income countries. Fortunately, with today’s digital technologies, those providing health information and services for girls…
A rich network of community volunteers in Nairobi are putting skills they developed during anti-polio activities to work tackling COVID-19, and mobilising slum dwellers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
It takes time for coronavirus to become established in the body, so a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t test positive later on.
The power sources used to keep vaccines cold used to be polluting and unreliable. We spoke to Alex de Jonquieres, Gavi’s Director of Health Systems and Immunisation Strengthening about how Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, became investors in solar…
Fake COVID-19 vaccines erode public trust in much-needed jabs and encourage vaccine hesitancy.
Before 1955, when a vaccine first made polio a preventable illness, the paralysing disease had to be treated. For many, the best option was the iron lung, a device that came to symbolise an era of anxiety in mid-20th century America.
New bioimaging technologies are pushing the boundaries of medicine. But poorer nations risk losing out on these advances. Investment in facilities and training globally is crucial to bridge the divide.
A reanalysis of 58 existing studies suggests that with COVID-19 being male or seriously overweight isn’t as risky as originally thought.
Separated for weeks and months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the arrival of vaccines is allowing people to physically reconnect with friends and family.
We need to make the development and distribution of vaccines a truly global endeavor.
The Delta variant that has caused devastation in countries like India and the UK has now mutated to produce another variant called Delta Plus. Should we be worried?
Guinea declares end of Ebola outbreak after 42 days without new cases. Outbreak resulted in 23 likely cases, 12 deaths since February. Success attributed to community buy-in, capacity building and vaccination.
By identifying people with high levels of neutralising antibodies after a first vaccine dose, rapid tests could potentially identify those who don’t need a booster dose.
This rare side-effect from the two RNA vaccines being rolled out might be concerning but the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
Two doses have always been more protective than one, but the Delta variant has made the benefit of the second dose much greater.
The Immunization Agenda 2030’s new scorecard visualizes a journey toward pandemic recovery and global immunization progress.
Vaccinated people can still get infected with the coronavirus. So if you have symptoms of COVID-19, getting tested can protect others and help health officials keep an eye on the virus.
Forced to suffer in silence after contracting COVID-19, the arrival of vaccines is helping many Nigerians with a history of the virus overcome stigma and get their lives back on track.
Beginning today, Kenya’s Ministry of Health is beginning a major new measles-rubella vaccination campaign to defend against outbreaks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected turn out for almost all Malawi’s health services, including routine immunisation. One local CSO is using Community Mother Care groups to trace those missing out on vaccines, helping to ensure children are…
For years, a growing number of infections that are resistant to antimicrobials has offered us a grim glimpse into a future with increasingly untreatable diseases. Now, COVID-19 has made antimicrobial resistance so much worse.
A major obstacle for COVID-19 vaccination programs to achieve higher and more equitable vaccine coverage throughout the world is vaccinating hard-to-reach communities.
The forecast is encouraging given the supply disruptions COVAX and countries with bilateral deals are currently experiencing, and the general challenges manufacturers are experiencing as they ramp up supply at historic speed and scale.
Masks, hand washing and physical distancing don’t only reduce the transmission of coronavirus. So, what will happen when we do away with these measures?
During the pandemic, researchers have treated Twitter as a sprawling and evolving historical document.
Mounting evidence suggests people living with HIV may be at greater risk of dying from COVID-19. The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines appear to be safe and effective in people with HIV.
Eswatini received its first batch of 32 000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in late March. 12 000 came through the COVAX facility and 20,000 through a donation from the Indian Government.
A previous infection does give you some immunity against COVID-19, but a new study suggests that vaccination gives your body a massive boost – including against variants of concern.
What do the CEO of the Vaccine Alliance and the star of a hit US TV show have in common? They both want to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccines and COVAX’s role in getting the world vaccinated.
Mary Mallon was branded a public menace and incarcerated after typhoid outbreaks across New York City were linked to her presence in the kitchen. Was she unfairly demonised?
Wondering what you can do to help end the acute phase of the pandemic? Go Give One – is giving everyone everywhere a chance to play their part.
Mastercard, a long-standing partner of Gavi, recently committed US$ 28 million to the Gavi COVAX AMC, to ensure vaccines are accessible to those that needed them the most, no matter where they live. Vaccines Work spoke to Michael Froman to learn…
The pandemic turned our normal ways of working upside down, but there are several ways in which the new normal could bring improvements in the way we fight disease.
Antibody therapy reduces COVID-19 fatalities by a fifth, but remains inaccessible to many countries.
People who are afraid of needles are twice as likely to be vaccine hesitant, new research shows.
There are now 17 COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use, but as the virus continues to evolve, here is why we can’t pull the plug on research into new vaccines and therapeutics.
Although the coronavirus doesn’t cause disease and death in children as much as it does in adults, many children around the world are vulnerable to the collateral damage wreaked by the pandemic.
A new paper suggests that plant- and fish-based diets lessen the chance of developing severe symptoms – but hold off from becoming vegetarian or pescatarian for now.
The Delta (B.1.617.2) variant of SARS CoV-2 was first detected in India and is rapidly spreading around the world. Here’s what we know about it so far.
COVID-19 virus particles can be spread via coughing, sneezing, breathing or speech, but the latter is one of the most effective ways of spreading. Here is why talking without a mask indoors could be one of the easiest ways to spread the infection…
Amidst the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, flooding in Kenya has made it even harder for the people of Kisumu County.
Is it risky or wise to delay the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine? Critics warned against the UK government policy of leaving a longer gap between doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. Now we have more data, so what do we…
Some of the world’s wealthiest countries nations have already committed to share doses with lower-income countries through COVAX: as G7 leaders meet this week, other governments must follow suit and share their doses now, because we only have a…
Ever since the pandemic started there have been news headlines speculating about the effect of the vaccines on our reproductive system, but what does the science tell us?
Accounts of previous epidemics – by Samuel Pepys, Daniel Defoe and Katherine Porter – warn of mistakes that we risk repeating.
After a devastating typhoid outbreak swept through Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a new, more effective vaccine is bringing hope.
It’s been over a year now since the pandemic first started, and now that vaccines are rolling out in many countries, how long do we have to wait for things to go back to ‘normal’?
We remain locked in a deadly race with the virus. We will only win when we have created a “variant-proof” world that can keep a lid on the havoc caused by its troublesome mutations.
Amid the 28.4 million cases and over 300 thousand deaths from SARS-CoV-2, a second epidemic has hit India. ‘Black fungus’, clinically known as mucormycosis, is an infection currently affecting nearly 12,000 immunocompromised patients recovering…
While we don't know exactly what causes it yet, there are a few theories put forward by a few researchers around the world.
Rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 are less sensitive than PCR tests, but here we explain why you should never ignore a positive result.
Researchers think they've calculated the limit of human lifespan – but there's more to it.
For those who migrate within Ondo State, Nigeria, access to immunisation has been complicated by the shift in focus to COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines were made in record speed, taking around 300 days from the moment the threat was first identified. But the world’s top scientists are aiming to overtake this world record in the next pandemic, aiming to make a vaccine in 100…
Various countries are training dogs to detect coronavirus, and the results of early clinical trials are looking promising.
Non-specific illnesses, such as headache and fatigue, are common, as are mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Marginalized people suffer from being at the intersection of multiple challenges and barriers. Economic hardship has been a secondary epidemic in the LGBTIQ community. We need public health and support services that acknowledge difference.
The death toll from the pandemic has been devastatingly high, with the official figure standing at 3.5 million people, but the World Health Organization estimates the real number could be up to three times higher. Here’s why.
A significant number of post-covid patients suffer from syndromes that few doctors understand.
Community health workers, government and aid agencies join a chorus of voices encouraging vaccinations in the DRC.
Our immune system is controlled by our "body clock" – an intricate 24-hour system which controls how cells function.
Social media has been much-maligned as a source of misinformation when it comes to vaccines. But for millions of Nigerians it is having the opposite effect, encouraging them to get their jabs.
Calling variants by their country of origin has politicised the pandemic response, leading to countries being blamed and people originating from those countries stigmatised and targeted – sometimes violently. Now, the World Health Organization is…
Worldwide more than 3.5 million people have died of COVID-19 so far; now millions more are on the brink of starvation because of a connected hunger crisis.
As more people get vaccinated, and testing requirements are becoming commonplace to allow freedom to travel and work, we look at the circumstances under which you could test positive for COVID-19 even after being vaccinated.
In the COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit, hosted by Japan, countries and industry came together to pledge support to the mission of making vaccines available equitably worldwide.
The Gavi COVAX AMC Summit “One World Protected” virtual event, hosted today by the Government of Japan and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, raised US$ 2.4 billion from nearly 40 donor governments, the private sector and foundations, exceeding the…
Further infections are not inevitable, if you take the following steps.
Several regulators have agreed the mRNA vaccine can be kept refrigerated for up to 30 days, making it easier to distribute in lower-resource settings.
Whether or not you can become reinfected with COVID-19 hasn’t been clear so far, but a new study from Denmark indicates that immune response triggered by the first infection offers good protection.
Some COVID-19 tests require you to swab your own tonsils, but could you be mistaking them for something else?
People who have had COVID-19 seem to have bone marrow cells that could produce antibodies for years to come, which could mean that immunity both from natural infection and vaccination is long lasting.
With millions of COVID-19 vaccines now being delivered around the world, they are utilising a huge hidden infrastructure, built up over decades and spreading across the globe, with one ultimate goal: keeping the vaccines cool. How did these …
New waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries, such as Kenya and India, have exposed the poor management of oxygen supplies. Moina Spooner, from The Conversation Africa, asked Professor Trevor Duke, an expert on [oxygen provision] and editor of…
Pamela Anyango is on a mission to boost vaccine coverage in Dandora, Kenya, home to a garbage dump that has been labelled the ‘cradle of the next pandemic’.
Mixing COVID-19 is being proposed in some countries but is it safe to do so, and how do our immune systems react?
Malawi’s Ministry of Health is using its structures to reach out to a small section of religious groups that are threatening the success of the country’s immunisation programme.
At the turn of the 20th Century, US researchers in Cuba made the historic discovery that mosquitoes spread yellow fever. The finding was not only a medical breakthrough; it would also make possible one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering…
Scientists think they may have caught a canine coronavirus in the process of adapting to humans.
Some vaccines are injected into muscle; others are given orally, or under the skin. What difference does it make to our immune response?
No activity that brings you into someone else’s breathing space is safe, but the risks associated with hugging can be lowered by taking some simple precautions.
A well-planned immunisation programme can go a long way to reducing the burden of disease on a country.
COVID-19 put a huge strain on Seyram and his mother’s relationship, as well as on their individual lives. The delivery of Ghana’s first batch of vaccines from COVAX means they can begin to rebuild what was broken.
Variants of interest and variants of concern seem to be popping up at an alarming rate. But how many of them do we really need to worry about?
In 1793, with the United States of America less than 20 years old, a yellow fever epidemic decimates the capital city, Philadelphia, and shines a spotlight on stark racial and social inequalities.
In some countries, wearing masks against COVID-19 is not mandatory anymore, but can the rest of the world follow suit?
Attitudes towards vaccines are changing as Zimbabwe’s Apostolic Church members come to terms with COVID-19.
Death rates on the continent are higher than Asia, Europe, North America or South America, in large part because of a lack of resources and underuse of resources that do exist.
It's been argued that pandemics are the great leveller, but with COVID the opposite is true – and we can't afford to ignore it.
As Community Health Workers, Harriet Nankwanzi and Yusuf Maganda have built personal relationships with people in their communities who have over the years relied on their services to access vital health information.
In this pandemic, the income level of a country proved not to be a guarantee of an effective COVID-19 response; this analysis shows the key factors in a resilient health system to protect against future outbreaks.
Children have so far been able to evade the worst effects of COVID-19, but this could be changing as new variants and other factors seem to be putting more at risk.
Many countries are beginning to use wastewater monitoring to track COVID-19 outbreaks, but such sewage surveillance has a long history.
Health workers go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the children of Borno State, Nigeria, are vaccinated.
The pandemic is having an adverse effect on Malawi’s continued drive to provide all children with routine vaccines.
Although the world’s eyes are currently focused on COVID-19, a network of laboratories has been tracking the emergence and spread of a different virus for seven decades.
As COVAX vaccines reach the rural Batsumber in Mongolia, livestock herders hope that the loneliness of the pandemic era will soon come to an end.
The UBS Optimus Foundation has launched a campaign to help secure funding for the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Vaccines Work spoke to Tom Hall, the UBS Head of Philanthropy Services to find out why.
Reports of fully vaccinated people getting infected with coronavirus shouldn't cause alarm.
With tourism hit hard by the pandemic, camel riders in Northern Kenya have repurposed their herds to help spread the word about COVID-19 vaccines, using traditional healers to gain trust in the community.
In an unprecedented show of global solidarity, the world came together to back COVAX, a unique global solution aimed at making equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines possible.
A COVAX Manufacturing Task Force has been established to identify and resolve issues impeding equitable access to vaccines.
App-assisted vaccinator training is an approach that shows promise, write the team who ran a Gavi-supported pilot to trial a new screen-based learning mechanism in India. What’s more, amid the pandemic, the flexibility of learning from home,…
It is the first vaccine developed by a non-Western country to be approved by the WHO, and is welcome at a time of global vaccine shortages.
Dr Berkley is recognised alongside other world-changing vaccine champions in this year’s list for their part in the fight against COVID-19.
After some initial hesitancy amongst health workers, Kenya has successfully rolled out the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As the Spanish flu of 1918-1920 tore through America, a San Francisco mayor bet on the potential of face masks to contain the spread. Then, like today, the demand to mask up met resistance that blended distrust, ideology and gut feeling.
The indigenous people adopted measures that were more applicable to the challenges but also their reality. And I tried to illustrate that in my story.
Vaccination is likely to substantially reduce virus transmission by reducing the pool of people who become infected, and reducing virus levels in people who get infected.
Country and community perspectives on realising the targets of the Immunisation Agenda 2030.
The Biden administration’s decision to stop opposing a proposed COVID-19 waiver of certain intellectual-property rights under World Trade Organization rules is a welcome move. But ending the pandemic also requires scaling up knowledge and…
The reasons why people may not take a COVID-19 vaccine even when offered can be complex and varied, but they point to the need to tackle them better if we are to improve vaccine coverage.
The pandemic has been tough for the 1.4 million Ugandans living with HIV, but the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine has brought some welcome relief.
Increasing vaccination coverage by even 1% can save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in medical and economic costs.
The rollout of the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise has not been without its challenges but there is a focus on learning and improving.
As countries worldwide are suffering from COVID-19 vaccine shortages, sharing intellectual property and know-how, and easing trade bans on the export of raw materials, could ease supply bottlenecks.
Meningitis affects more than 30,000 people in Africa every year. Scientists use weather data to predict location and scale of impending cases. The prediction helps country-level health services to plan emergency responses.
Increasing skills and the availability of raw materials would be a bigger boost for vaccine production right now.
We cannot look back in the future and know we could have done more.
With 47 African countries now rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and over 17 million doses given on the continent, early insights from Africa’s largest-ever immunization drive offer hope, inspiration and early, yet vital lessons. Here, we shine a…
Investment in bedside oxygen production could make hospitals more resilient in the face of COVID-19.
Vaccines are one of our greatest success stories, but vaccination rates for many diseases have been stalling; this has been exacerbated with the disruption caused by Covid-19. Anna Mouser sets out the evidence on what works, and what doesn’t, for…
To reach zero-dose children in conflict states like South Sudan, social mobilisers like Nyok Daniel are crucial to winning the trust and support of local communities.
The impact of COVID-19 threatens to reverse hard-worn strides in global health. Without immediate investments, we will miss our chance to save lives and help countries recover from the pandemic and build the human capital needed for a resilient…
Although it is only natural and proper for governments to focus on vaccinating their citizens first, it is important not to lose sight of the big picture. The only way we can beat COVID-19 is to defeat it everywhere, and the best way to do that…
Trying to control a pandemic can feel like being in a warzone, yet even as we fight COVID-19 we still need to keep one eye on the future and potential emerging pandemics. Dr Velislava Petrova, senior manager in vaccine policy and investment at…
Distributing COVID-19 vaccines has been challenging, meaning in some cases vaccines are being delivered close to their expiration date; but the WHO is urging countries to hold on to the doses while it assesses whether shelf lives can be extended…
The signed advance purchase agreement (APA) is for up to 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna. Supply via the agreement will take place from the second half of 2021 through 2022, with options in place to address the…
Globally, antibiotic use in hospitals has surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and over-the-counter sales, legal in many countries, have soared. This is further fueling the global crisis of antimicrobial resistance, as bacteria evolve…
The Safo family, with a seven-year-old son with a number of medical conditions, know all too well what it’s like to have to readjust their lives and limits to accommodate a new reality. The delivery of Ghana’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines by…
In pockets of vaccine resistance like Fauji Colony in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, children remain at risk of crippling polio. VaccinesWork meets the polio workers going door-to-door to change minds and protect children’s futures.
Often, crisis responses and emergency funding do not lead to significant structural changes because their goal is to provide immediate relief, not drive long-term shifts. Immediate crisis relief and long-term structural changes, however, can…
A new documentary tells a powerful tale of families overcoming every obstacle to protect their children from vaccine preventable disease.
Cameroonian health workers are going the distance to reach the remote Island of Manoka on a quest to ensure that no child is left behind.
In Uttar Pradesh, India, over 1,000 children die every day from preventable diseases. Gavi’s long-standing partnership with Unilever and Lifebuoy has helped to reach 2.5 million people with essential vaccines and soap, while also leveraging the…
There are a broad range of different types of vaccine, but one thing they usually have in common is that they are inherently biological. That means that often their ingredients need to be grown.
Vaccines save millions of lives a year, but what exactly is a vaccine and what goes into making one? And how do we know they are safe? Here, we talk about every aspect of vaccines and why they are so important for our health.
Meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity reduces the risk of falling ill and dying of infectious diseases by 37%.
9.7 million children in 57 Gavi-supported countries remain unvaccinated and at risk. Why are these children missing out? In Bikaner, Rajasthan, VaccinesWork meets two families who simply never landed on the health system’s radar.
Stories of reaching herd immunity were certainly premature.
Why a 19th century portrait of three southern Indian noblewomen is “one of the most important scientific pictures in the history of medicine in India.”
Geneva/New York, 26 April 2021 – While immunization services have started to recover from disruptions caused by COVID-19, millions of children remain vulnerable to deadly diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine…
Despite decades of progress increasing access to immunisation in lower-income countries, at least 12.4 million children still go without basic, routine vaccines every year. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is now focusing on reaching these zero-dose…
The R21/Matrix-M vaccine is the first to show promise of hitting the World Health Organisation’s target of 75% efficacy against malaria.
Today, to mark the first year of the creation of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, President Emmanuel Macron announced that France has begun sharing vaccine doses with COVAX, starting with a first batch of 105,600 doses – with 500,…
Over half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Angola in March, delivered through the COVAX initiative. VaccinesWork talked to some of the first beneficiaries.
When the pandemic started, India defied expectations by having a milder outbreak than had been predicted. Now, it is seeing a deadly second wave that is bringing the country’s health system to its knees – so what is behind this, and how much is…
A deadly cousin of Ebola, Marburg can kill nine out of ten people it infects, and international travel has taken it from Africa to Europe twice in the past 40 years. Will increasing globalisation make this virus more likely to erupt around the…
Scientists who study the post-illness syndrome are taking a close look at patients’ reports of this unexpected benefit of the vaccine.
Óscar Gil Pereira is one of Angola’s most celebrated filmmakers. Last year he became one of the 24,000 people in Angola to contract COVID-19. After beating the disease, he is now vaccinated and committed to celebrating the health worker heroes…
The antiparasitic drug was thought to be a potential treatment for COVID-19, but there isn't sufficient evidence to recommend its use, despite widespread support online.
Vaccines contain active ingredients that trigger an immune response to viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. But in order to work well, it is important that they also contain other key ingredients to keep them safe and effective.
The prospect of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis makes it all the more urgent to have a firm vision of how the burden of public debt can be reduced once the coronavirus has been vanquished. For this reason, every country must work on itself and…
The pandemic has strained most countries’ health systems. Afghanistan has faced more hurdles than most.
We didn’t have to be stuck with needles.
Study suggests the risk of a serious brain clot is up to ten times higher in people with COVID-19 infections, compared to those receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVAX has a critical role to play in ending the acute phase of the pandemic. The initiative could also be a model for how we address some of the most urgent development challenges of our time, from climate change to poverty reduction.
The delivery of vaccines has gone a long way to alleviating the fears and pressure on healthcare workers in Eswatini.
Millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered across the world, but what do we know about how long will immunity last?
New Covid-19 variants could potentially jeopardise a lot of the work that has been done so far to contain the pandemic. Sonia Gonçalves explains how genomic surveillance can help us track and contain them.
Communities often look to their traditional and religious leaders when it comes to advice on how to live. In Malawi, they are stepping to the fore.
Al-Shabaab has forced the shutdown of health facilities close to the Somalia border in Northern Kenya. A group of women activists are fighting back, ensuring COVID-19 vaccines reach the most vulnerable.
New research suggests people who exercise for 150 minutes a week are half as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who are consistently inactive.
Since the first consignment of COVAX doses arrived in Malawi in mid-March, vaccination centres like Chileka Health Centre, just outside Blantyre, have recorded enthusiastic turn-out.
Maternal health in low- and middle-income countries hit hard by COVID-19. Global review analysed stillbirth, maternal death rates from 17 countries. Maternity care must be prioritised during global health crisis, says report
The “One World Protected” Event, hosted today by the United States and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, launched a campaign to raise US$ 2 billion for the global fight against COVID-19.
As long as there have been vaccines, a vocal minority of public voices have made it their mission to rile up their communities against vaccination. In Montréal, in 1885, those voices were successful – and the results were deadly.
The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Eswatini through COVAX means the elderly now have the chance to protect themselves against the disease. VaccinesWork visits a vaccination session in Lobamba.
The seasons can affect transmission of the virus – but this will likely be dwarfed by the impact of public health measures.
Experience shows that innovative and evidence-based approaches, when executed well, can dent poverty. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to reverse hard-won global gains, the need for policy-relevant research, and for scaling effective…
Ending the COVID-19 crisis hinges on all countries being able to vaccinate their people. A lot goes into getting ready.
Over 50 health workers in Uganda have lost their lives to COVID-19 – a huge toll for a country with just 0.17 doctors per thousand people in some areas. With remaining health workers overworked and vulnerable, some relief has come in the form of…
At the turn of the 19th century, news of a 1796 medical breakthrough called 'vaccination' started to spread around the world. A fascinating recent book, War Against Smallpox by Michael Bennett, traces the subsequent dissemination of the actual…
Kigali – Forty-eight hours after Rwanda received shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccinations began in earnest, with high-risk population given priority. The country plans to vaccinate a third of the population in 2021 and double that figure next…
New data shows that investing in getting that first vaccination to children can be a turning point in getting them fully immunised.
The study found people bounce back from their mental sluggishness soon after emerging from isolation.
To mark one year of #VaccinesWork, we look back at some of the articles that answer the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 during an unprecedented year for global health.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest economic and social crisis of a lifetime. Human rights are key in shaping our collective pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.
The European Medicines Agency has concluded that there is a possible link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and very rare blood clots. But what are these clots and how great is the risk?
In a huge country like Nigeria, ensuring the right people receive COVAX vaccines is not just a question of how, but where. Could geospatial technology, trialled during previous polio campaigns, make a difference?
A genetic trick called an integron plays an important role in helping bacteria do this.
Natural infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may not lead to long-lasting immunity, so it is important to get the vaccine as well.
The COVAX Facility has now delivered life-saving vaccines to over 100 economies since making its first international delivery to Ghana on February 24th.
As the 19th century entered its final quarter, “vaccination” meant one thing: immunisation with cowpox against deadly smallpox. By the end of the 20th century, safe and effective vaccines existed against 26 killer diseases. In the second part of…
Currently approved vaccines incorporate viral proteins or the instructions for making them, but they do not contain any live virus.
Immunization and vaccination experts from around the world outlined the current state of the world’s vaccination campaigns while addressing the urgent needs and concerns regarding public trust in the efficacy of vaccines; access and challenges.…
History tells us that the end of pandemics are rarely – if ever – neat, uncomplicated, or even easy to date.
In the 19th century, yellow fever had taken hold of parts of Europe and the USA, especially the Deep South, killing thousands. Now mostly in Africa and South America, this mosquito-borne disease could spread at any moment, threatening public…
As early as the 1500s, efforts to halt the spread of smallpox included risky procedures designed to trigger immunity. By the 1800s, these methods – collectively termed “variolation” – had been supplanted by the earliest example of a new, safer…
The increased use of disinfectants could allow for the development of bacterial strains which are resistant to disinfectants.
On 15 March 2020, Somalia received 300 000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX Facility to protect frontline workers and elderly people with chronic health conditions from COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) hears…
In March, Mukami received her first COVAX vaccine dose. As a woman in her 60s living in Kenya, she has priority access to COVAX vaccines, alongside other high-risk groups like health care workers and people with underlying diseases. Here she…
On 22 March 2021, the world marked World Water Day, with the theme for this year’s celebration being “valuing water.” What can the long history of water’s connection with health teach us about its true value to the world?
Experts say there’s nothing new about the research underpinning the covid vaccines and that they were tested in more participants than many other approved vaccines.
Covid-19 vaccination efforts are picking up worldwide, bringing hopes of returning to a more normal life. Vaccines are now starting to reach countries across the globe through the COVAX initiative, set up to promote equitable access to vaccines…
What side are you on, paper or dryer? In either case, here's the bottom line on what to do after using the toilet.
By understanding the circumstances that make viral evolution more likely, we stand a better chance of staying a step ahead.
COVAX was designed to ensure the most vulnerable in every country get access to COVID-19 vaccines. But what about people in conflict zones or humanitarian settings that can’t be reached by government vaccination campaigns? Last week Gavi approved…
The key insights from the assessments to date present a high-level snapshot of country readiness to deploy COVID-19 vaccines based on initial findings from ongoing assessments in 128 countries.
To mark the first anniversary of #VaccinesWork, we look back at some of the most read articles on diseases other than COVID-19 during an unprecedented year for global health.
As more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, some are worrying about how ‘normal’ their side effects are. Here’s what you need to know.
Instead of working to make vaccines against each unique coronavirus or variant, what if we could provide broad protection across the field through an all-in-one coronavirus shot?
The virtual event will bring together world leaders, the private sector, civil society, and key technical partners to galvanize resources and commitment to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Wuhan investigation points to wildlife as likely source of COVID-19. Climate change and illegal trade are increasing risk of zoonotic disease transmission. Wildlife protection, surveillance of zoonosis are key to early detection of ‘spillover…
Ghana became the first African country to receive vaccines through the COVAX initiative in February. Meet one of the nurses spearheading the vaccination effort.
More than 100 years after the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, type A influenza virus not only poses one of the largest threats to the modern world, but the risk of spill-over of avian influenza from poultry to humans is growing.
For one year, 600 people tracked 20 types of coronavirus restriction in 186 countries – here's what they found out.
Whilst COVID-19 caught the world off guard, the speed at which it spread and the extent of its impact on people’s lives came as a great shock to most. However, some were not surprised at all.
Ghana became the first African country to receive COVAX doses in February, kicking off a mammoth logistical effort in the country to get these doses to the frontline workers that need them. #VaccinesWork spoke to the cold chain experts making it…
The continent had a milder first wave than the rest of the world, but research suggests that relaxed public health measures led to the coronavirus rebounding with a vengeance the second time around.
To mark the first anniversary of #VaccinesWork, we look back at some of the most-read articles on how countries have been navigating COVID-19 during an unprecedentedly challenging year for global health.
The Covid-19 pandemic is global, and to bring the pandemic to a close, a collaborative, global approach is needed. But why is it so important that all countries have access to vaccines as soon as possible?
These results can help allay previous concerns in Europe about a lack of trial data for older people.
There are several COVID-19 vaccines being used around the world, but all need to be injected and some need ultra-cold refrigeration. Could next-generation intranasal vaccines be a quicker and easier way of protecting ourselves?
Tuberculosis kills millions of people each year, but several recent advances in vaccine development are providing fresh hope.
The tiger mosquito that carries the chikungunya virus is now moving into new habitats in Europe and America thanks to climate change. This means the once tropical disease could soon become a global pandemic threat.
The global response to the coronavirus pandemic, for all its flaws, has yielded impressive results by ignoring traditional bureaucratic and sectoral silos. That should spur us to raise our ambitions for global public health, with an emphasis on…
The virus appears to attack support cells at the back of the nose, but “smell training” may help people to recover their missing sense.
Accra, 18 March 2021 – COVID-19 vaccination in Africa is gathering pace, with more than 7 million doses so far administered. But the continent received vaccines later than other regions of the world and in limited quantity. A few weeks after…
Community vaccinators go where fixed health centres can’t reach. In Afghanistan, that means fighting Taliban injunctions, entrenched gender imbalances and difficult terrain, all to ensure the nation’s children are protected.
Time to get vaccinated!
In today’s blog post, we’re featuring a fierce and passionate female WASH advocate from Nigeria. Tariah Adams, a Senior Communications and Advocacy Officer for White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria and campaign mobilizer, she has a personal interest in…
At the end of the year 2019, we created an elaborate 2020 plan for our projects at Beyond the Classroom Foundation. As we got closer to our second project scheduled for the end of March, the government imposed a lockdown, banning all public…
Unlike traditional security threats, infectious disease can’t be solved through sanctions, military posturing, deterrence or bilateral diplomacy, but rather through scientific collaboration, long-term investments in global health and resilient…
Ebola has so far only affected African countries, and occasional cases outside of the continent have been rapidly contained. But the virus could mutate to spread more easily between people, making it more of a pandemic threat.
To mark the first anniversary of #VaccinesWork, we look back at some of the most read articles on COVID-19 during an unprecedented year for global health.
So far, homeschooling has been trial and error because it’s difficult to keep the twins calm and engaged for long periods of time. We have no fixed curriculum and use online educational programs as a guide.
After a difficult year, the vaccination roll-out is underway at Ghana’s premier medical facility, where health workers dare to hope that things can go back to normal.
John Nkengasong is the Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is also the WHO special envoy for Africa. John spoke to CovidHQAfrica desk about a range of issues including his vision for the vaccines in Africa, and…
COVID-19 has demonstrated that viruses not only know no borders, but they also do not discriminate based on immigration status. Failing to take migrants into account in our vaccination efforts would hamper the effectiveness of these campaigns and…
To mark the first anniversary of #VaccinesWork, we look back at some of the most read articles on COVID-19 during an unprecedented year for global health.
Sales of medical devices that measure the oxygen saturation of blood are booming thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But are they worth the investment?
Genetic sequencing has linked the recent outbreak of Ebola disease to a survivor of the 2014-16 West Africa epidemic, meaning the virus could have laid dormant in one survivor for over five years. What does this mean for our efforts to control…
Abuja, 12 March 2021 – As the second wave of COVID-19 affects the global health and economic community, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting government to engage strategic stakeholders as part of concerted efforts to reverse the…
With the historic global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in full swing, bottlenecks in the supply chain are inevitable as manufacturing output tries to keep pace with demand. A manufacturing supply chain summit last week outlined potential…
An army of volunteers help people who otherwise would have had difficulty securing a covid vaccination because of cumbersome computer or telephone registration systems.
Various countries have halted the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, while reports of blood clots are investigated. Here’s what we know so far.
For anyone who has worked on crop improvement in Africa over the last three decades, the flood of misinformation around vaccines evokes an eerie sense of déjà vu.
Nipah virus can kill as many as three out of four people it infects. Since the fruit bat that carries the virus often comes into contact with humans, here we explain why the development of drugs and vaccines for the disease is becoming…
Our immune systems are supposed to defend us from invading pathogens but, in the case of COVID-19, an immune overreaction may be to blame for severe illness.
Dr Paul Garner, a British infectious disease expert at the UK’s Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine caught COVID-19 early in 2020, and then developed Long COVID. Here, he talks frankly with Gavi about his experiences, how he recovered and how…
COVID-19 vaccine testing on children is just getting started, and only in adolescents.
The virus is always present in nature and when circumstances allow, it may jump from one species to another.
Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, many countries around the world imposed some form of quarantine to control its spread. What can the history of quarantine teach us about isolation and lockdowns now?
Researchers identify bacterial variants that may be evolving resistance to antimicrobials and vaccines.
Vivianne Ihekweazu (Lead writer): On the day marking one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Nigeria, this article reflects on the experience and lessons learnt from the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker as she led…
Overall efficacy is just one metric.
For the people of Lahaul, the opening of a new high-altitude tunnel ends years of wintertime isolation – and opens a vital route of access for COVID-19 vaccines.
Stockpiles of this vaccine are going unused in France and Germany, and unfounded criticism of it may be partly to blame.
This is the third in a three-part series highlighting key lessons learned since the launch, four years ago, of the Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP), established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to ensure optimal cold chain…
This is the second in a three-part series highlighting key lessons learned since the launch, four years ago, of the Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP), established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to ensure optimal cold chain…
Leaders in global health have been working on COVAX – a global initiative to ensure the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Some of the top jobs are held by a diverse group of women, so in honour of International Women's Day we'd like to…
For this year's International Women's Day VaccinesWork has interviewed a number of women leaders and front line workers who represent this year's IWD theme: #ChooseToChallenge
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Nighat Rani, a vaccinator in Pakistan, shows how her work rests on a bedrock of female empathy and understanding…
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Professor Chizoba Wonodi, Founder of Women Advocates for Vaccine Access in Nigeria and Country Director at the…
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, epidemiologist and associate scientific director for CAPRISA – the Centre for…
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Professor Heidi Larson, Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, explains how gender can affect…
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Rathnamma P, an 'ASHA' in Bengaluru, India, explains how the country's army of one million female community health…
This International Women’s Day Vaccines Work is hosting a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Anuradha Gupta, Gavi’s Deputy CEO, explains what ‘choose to challenge’ – this year’s IWD theme – means to her.
To make the world safe from COVID-19, we need everyone vaccinated, including children. To get back to normality, we also need vaccinated adults, ongoing safety measures, safe re-opening of schools, access to all recommended vaccines – and…
As political and public health leaders across the world work to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, what can they learn from the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll getting jabbed?
Reaching the goals of the plan requires the best possible interaction between public and private -for profit and not-for-profit - healthcare sectors.
The first deliveries of up to 2.5 million doses of COVAX vaccines by autonomous drone began this week in Ghana.
Several vaccines that have become available have shown different levels of efficacy. So what is vaccine efficacy? Dr Lee Hampton, a paediatrician and medical epidemiologist with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, explains.
A vaccine that apparently protects animals against multiple strains of flu has been created by tethering a relatively unchanging part of the surface proteins found on the virus to nanoparticles.
As more COVID-19 vaccines become available, countries the world over are now faced with the daunting task of carrying out mass vaccinations. Here, one expert explains how her organisation is supporting rollouts in the US and offers insights into…
Most people have been doing everything they can to avoid getting COVID-19, but in the coming days British history student Jacob Hopkins has chosen to be deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 as part of the world’s first Challenge Trial. He…
Real-world studies of vaccines aren't directly comparable with clinical trials, but their results are still good news.
COVID-19 cases are falling week on week, so can we allow ourselves to be hopeful?
COVID-19 vaccination campaigns using COVAX-funded doses commenced today in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the first global rollout.
This article is part of a series of explainers on vaccine development and distribution. Learn more about vaccines – from how they work and how they’re made to ensuring safety and equitable access – in WHO’s Vaccines Explained series.
Ghana is not only the first country to receive a shipment of COVAX vaccines, but it will be the first to broaden its reach by delivering them by drone. The new partnership with Zipline and UPS Foundation will see 2.5 million doses delivered this…
Even those that live in areas where the population has already been vaccinated would not be totally protected if the virus mutates elsewhere.
The first in a three-part series of blogs highlighting key lessons learned since the launch, four years ago, of the Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP), established by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to ensure optimal cold chain…
Roald Dahl's daughter Olivia died of measles aged seven.
Minor side effects are a normal sign that the immune system is mounting a protective response following vaccination, although they aren’t universal.
Countries in the West Africa region are in a very different position to seven years ago. They now have the experience of the past as well as new tools to tackle Ebola.