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Vaccines and Immunisation Q2 2024

Shielding the future: how vaccines can help combat AMR

Young woman scientist looking through a microscope in a laboratory doing chemical research, microbiological analysis or medical test.
Young woman scientist looking through a microscope in a laboratory doing chemical research, microbiological analysis or medical test.
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Nadezhda Buravleva

Mandeep Kaur

Project Assistant, EVI

Irina Meln

Senior Innovation Manager, EVI

Romina Di Marzo

Communications and Advocacy Manager, EVI

Marit Holleman

Sr. Knowledge exchange and networking manager & Project Manager, TBVI

Amid growing antimicrobial resistance posing a threat to public health, vaccines are vital to prevent infections and limit resistance spread.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 threats to global health as determined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The emergence of AMR is caused by the loss of sensitivity of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites to antimicrobial drugs. This rise is a result of antimicrobial overuse, poor infection control practices and the misuse of antibiotics in animals and agriculture.1

TB treatment regime fuels AMR

One of the leading causes of AMR is tuberculosis (TB): the lengthy treatment regime from six months up to two years increases the likelihood of non-compliance among patients, providing fertile grounds for bacteria to mutate and develop resistance. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB has further complicated treatment protocol, leading to longer, more expensive and less effective treatment.

Moreover, the lack of affordable diagnostics to determine whether a patient is infected with TB results in delayed and suboptimal treatment, leading to more resistance. The rise of antibacterial-resistant strains of TB poses a formidable challenge, requiring a sustained and adaptive response.2

AMR and vaccines

Approximately 700,000 people die each year worldwide from drug-resistant infections.3 This emphasises the critical need for improved diagnostics and research in developing alternative medical interventions against AMR.

Vaccines represent a beacon of hope in mitigating AMR; they prevent life-threatening diseases by protecting against both drug-resistant and non-resistant pathogens. Moreover, by preventing infections, vaccines reduce the use of antibiotics and the economic burden of health costs.

Collaborative projects against AMR

Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) and European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) are jointly contributing to the European battle against tuberculosis and AMR. Both organisations work on AMR and/or TB vaccines through ITHEMYC, TBVAC-HORIZON, PrIMAVeRA and DRAIGON projects.

EVI-led PrIMAVeRA project (‘Predicting the Impact of Monoclonal Antibodies and Vaccines on Antimicrobial Resistance) seeks to develop mathematical models and an epidemiological repository to assess the impact of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) on AMR. TBVI-led ITHEMYC delivers immunotherapies for TB, which can synergise with antibiotic regimens, reducing the risk of AMR by preventing relapse.

AMR is a pressing global health issue, necessitating worldwide collaborative efforts and more investment in innovations for vaccines, drugs and diagnostics to provide better solutions for patients globally.

The European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) is a product development partnership that has supported the development of more than 40 different vaccine candidates for malaria, leishmaniasis, diarrhoeal diseases, emerging pathogens and more. 

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance
[2] https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/hq-tuberculosis/global-tuberculosis-report-2023/global-tb-report-2023-factsheet.pdf
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35065702/ 


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