The need for innovative vaccine development, distribution, and delivery has perhaps never been clearer than it is this World Immunization Week, which has arrived at a critical moment in one of the most ambitious and important global health efforts of modern times.
Vaccines save millions of lives every year and are widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful health interventions. They’re also an area in which we have helped our clients in the global fight against infectious diseases for more than half a century.
Foundations, governments, international organizations, and pharmaceutical companies have made great progress over that period in improving health outcomes for those greatest in need. Between 2000 and today, for instance, the number of children’s lives lost annually to vaccine preventable diseases has fallen from 4 to 5 million per year to 1.5 million today, with over 20 million cumulative lives saved.
“The impact that immunizations have had on the world over the last 20 years is amazing” says senior partner Adam Sabow, who co-leads our work in vaccines. “We have seen that on full display during COVID-19. At the same time, this pandemic has also highlighted the challenges that still remain. We are proud to be part of the immunization ecosystem, playing a small role in supporting our clients around COVID-19 and immunization more broadly.”
This latest fight against infectious disease has ushered in an accelerated pace of development, with vaccines arriving four times faster than prior vaccines. We have also seen an unprecedented scale of rollout globally, although it has been uneven. As the pandemic continues to evolve, some countries are now on the path to recovery and others are continuing to face challenges.
A broad range of institutions are collaborating in this historic effort to develop, distribute, and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. To help, we have drawn upon decades of experience in global public health, led by more than 300 colleagues who bring deep expertise in public health, in-country delivery and rollout, immunology, clinical development, operations, and supply chains.
“In the early days, we had a small group of folks passionate about global health doing this work,” says senior partner Michael Conway, who also co-leads our work in vaccines. “Today, we attract hundreds of nurses, doctors, immunologists, and public-health specialists, all of whom join the firm to have an outsized impact on lives around the world.”
The massive global effort over the last year has ignited a wave of innovation, and looking ahead, we see the potential for a renaissance in immunization in several areas. Realizing this vision will require leadership across the private and public sector and continued collaboration among scientists, governments, businesses, and other stakeholders.
In the context of COVID-19, we are just at the beginning of the road to recovery, and real challenges continue to impact the lives and livelihoods of people around the world. As the pandemic evolves, we asked some of our experts to share their perspectives on their experiences, the challenges that lie ahead, and the pandemic that is shaping us.