Posts Tagged “Yellow Fever”

Big Pharma Has the Flu

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Big Pharma Has the Flu

A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed what people have been suspecting: This flu season is one of the worst in recent memory. It’s on track to match the 2014-2015 season in which 34 million Americans got the flu, and about 56,000 people—including 148 children—died.

One reason behind the high toll is a mismatch between one of the flu viruses infecting people and one of the viral strains chosen almost a year ago for the global vaccine recipe, which gets rewritten every year. The dominant strain this winter is one called H3N2, which historically causes more severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths than other strains. When the flu swept through Australia last summer, the effectiveness of the H3N2 component of the vaccine was only about 10 percent. The CDC doesn’t yet have a hard estimate for effectiveness in the United States but thinks it might be near 30 percent.

That mismatch is a bad piece of biological luck. But we should consider it a warning.

We’ve long known that our flu vaccines aren’t built to last, or to tackle every strain. But pharma companies don’t have an incentive to research drugs that will make them less money—not…

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Universal health coverage: Connecting the dots between innovation and delivery

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Last month at the Universal Health Coverage Forum in Tokyo, I witnessed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspire world leaders and advocates as they pledged their support for universal health coverage – the idea that everyone, everywhere, should be able to access quality health services.

The global movement for universal health coverage has come a long way thanks to the Government of Japan’s leadership. The next step is for governments and donors to make concrete investments that will help make universal health coverage a reality and for civil society to continue holding them accountable.

There is lots of work to be done. Filling the gap in access to quality health services requires coordinated investments in innovation and healthcare delivery, which have traditionally been viewed as separate priorities, but in reality, are two sides of the same coin.

On the one hand, we desperately need new medicines, diagnostics and vaccines to fight deadly diseases. A warming world is spreading vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, and yellow fever faster and further than ever before, creating added urgency to develop innovations before these diseases spiral out of control. Antimicrobial resistance is also complicating the challenge.

At the same time, innovations mean little without strong…

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