The meeting brought together experts from 20 countries (including Mozambique, USA, UK, France, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, South Korea, Nigeria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada) to discuss how to take a broader perspective to measure the full public health impact of vaccines. Vaccines are typically licensed on the basis of demonstrated efficacy, but other factors need to be considered, including the capacity of a vaccination program to reduce microbial transmission, avert disease, disability and premature deaths, and to lessen pressure on health systems.
The initial discussions evaluated the various methods available for assessing the full public health benefit of vaccines, including probe studies, dynamic models and VPDI (vaccine preventable disease incidence). Case studies were also presented that demonstrated how preventable disease incidence measures can be used to show a more inclusive picture of the full public health benefit of pneumococcal, rotavirus, malaria, and dengue vaccines. Finally, the meeting explored the need to include the public health impact of vaccines in decision-making for licensure and national vaccine programs.
This meeting was a unique opportunity for networking among vaccine thought leaders who shared their perspectives as well as studies that demonstrate ways of measuring the public health benefit of vaccines. Participating institutions included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Vaccine Institute (IVI), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Emory University, Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP), Nigerian Academy of Science, African Academy of Sciences, PhaRA, Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the Philippines, University of Maryland School of Medicine, PATH and companies such as Sanofi Pasteur, Pfizer and Takeda.
A key message that emerged from the conference was the importance for regulatory agencies and vaccine policy decision-makers to consider preventable disease burden as a criterion in their licensure and recommendations. The overall consensus was that it takes more than the efficacy measured in trials to capture the full public health benefit of vaccines.