Happy Monday, Dailies. Like my friend Dr. Nobody knows the development of vaccines for Bruce Gellin. When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Larry and Lucy Page launched their new $ 12 million public challenge to develop a universal flu vaccine I asked Bruce if he would share a few thoughts on the effort. Bruce, who gave a fantastic presentation at FORTUNE Brainstorm Health this year on the centenary of the 1918 pandemic flu, is president of the Global Immunization Unit at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, DC, where he directs the institute's influenza program. He was previously Deputy Minister of Health and Director of the US Department of State's National Vaccine Program Office, where he drafted the first HHS pandemic plan. Bruce, who was a World Health Organization adviser, is also simply the smartest person I know when it comes to the potentials and challenges of vaccines ̵
This year marks a century since the "Spanish flu" swept across the world in 1918, killing an estimated 50 to 100 million people and infecting a quarter of the world's population. Despite the medical advances and innovations of the last 100 years, the world is not prepared when and when the next influenza pandemic will not occur.
The New $ 12 Million to Stop the Pandemic Dangers: A major challenge for the development of the universal influenza vaccines from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lucy and Larry Page is an important and necessary step to bring innovative ideas to a groundbreaking Find solution to fight the flu. The big challenge is just that – a challenge for everyone to bring their ideas to the table to find a solution to the looming threat of an influenza pandemic. Unlike more traditional queries targeting the usual suspects of the scientific elites who have built a career in flu research, this challenge calls for orthogonal problem-solving approaches at the intersection of disciplines that often drive innovation.
Ongoing research to fill in the many scientific gaps is critical. Research funded by public funds in the United States and abroad by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the European Commission and various philanthropic organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust, as well as by the industry, biotechnology Sector and venture capital need to be continued. And the congress deserves recognition to make sure this science is advanced. But new research strategies, collaborations and novel and even revolutionary approaches are needed.
The Gates Foundation and Page Family are right to encourage the world's best thinkers in a variety of disciplines beyond the traditional flu community to join this task. It is in the nature of science to take one step at a time, but we should not forget that unexpected insights can trigger innovation. The history of science is full of stories about unexpected discoveries and strange bedfellows. The next great idea could come from anywhere. Given the risk of a global pandemic, this investment is not a high risk, it is necessary and we look forward to seeing the ideas that could come from areas of science that we never considered before.
Today, most routine childhood vaccines are more than 90 percent effective, but the flu vaccine this season was only 36 percent effective. A universal flu vaccine that is just as safe, effective, affordable and widely used as our vaccines for children who have wiped out diseases that were once part of every child's life could bring the flu into a distant memory. The development of vaccines – especially for a complex virus like influenza – is a challenge. But this common global task is fundamental to improving and saving the lives of millions of people around the world.
This great challenge comes in the year of the 1918 influenza pandemic, with the goal of identifying new, transformative concepts that would lead to the development of a truly universal flu vaccine. Such a vaccine would alleviate the need for annual influenza vaccination campaigns and prepare the world for the next influenza pandemic.
In addition to independent efforts such as the Grand Challenge, Sabin has launched a three-year initiative to move the world closer to stopping the threat of the flu. Our work will focus on promoting innovative approaches from various disciplines to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine. We will be an innovation facilitator building bridges, creating networks and bringing disruptive thinkers to the table to explore new perspectives that complement and challenge traditional biomedical research to drive the next breakthrough.
This year's flu season is a harsh year to remember how important this work is to eradicate the threat of influenza seasonal and pandemic forever.
(Learn about Sabin's flu work.)
(Learn more about quitting the pandemic threat: A Great Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development.)
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