Vaccines: Health and Wealth
Developing nations increasingly recognize that health and wealth are linked. Thus, even during a recession they will regard
a vaccination program as an investment. "Insofar as a healthy population grows its economy faster, then anything that improves
population health will tend to have these follow-on economic benefits," says Harvard's David Bloom. "And vaccination tends
to improve population health quite dramatically."
But the growing availability of vaccines is forcing nations to make hard choices. In many countries, a simple step like vaccinating
for rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, and HPV could quadruple the national vaccination budget, says Bloom.
"The trouble is, even though they know vaccines are a good value, [policymakers] have to come up with the money to buy them,"
says Cynthia Whitney, MD, pneumonia expert at CDC.
"It makes me very concerned about HPV," says Dr. Peter Hortez. "That's going to be a great challenge. These new-generation
vaccines coming out are as expensive as the rest of all the vaccines combined. I do think companies are making a good-faith
effort, but the market has not yet been defined."
"We have an innovation pile up where some countries are looking at introducing five or even seven more vaccines in just a
few years," says Kate Taylor. "What we haven't figured out is how to accelerate such a rapid expansion. We can't make false
choices. It's not OK for a kid to die of rotavirus versus pneumococcal versus meningitis."
Ted Bianco, director of technology transfer for the Wellcome Trust, says some nations might revert to putting their dollars
into time-tested vaccine solutions, like measles. It's a situation McGlynn and others will have to address, at the same time
catching nations up with vaccines from the past and piloting them into the future.
McGlynn, on the availability of an HIV vaccine: "While we are committed, we can't be unrealistic and assume we that we're going to solve this problem in the next couple
of years—and I've heard experts say we should assume we won't have an HIV vaccine in the next 10 years. Now, certainly, I'm
motivated that I we can prove those experts wrong, but I don't want to create false hope. We need other strategies."
Did you know? the considerable noise spread by antivaccine groups in the United States about the link between vaccines and autism, less
than one percent of children received no vaccinations at all, according to the CDC, and 80 percent of all children received
all recommended vaccines.