Veterinary investment plea to safeguard global health

A lack of funding for veterinary vaccinology is putting the world’s economy and human health at risk according to a new report.

The British Society for Immunology and the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network have said there needs to be urgent strategic investment in veterinary vaccinology to secure global health, wealth and security.

The two organisations have issued a report which warns that research to tackle animal viruses had to be adequately funded otherwise the world will pay the price.

Dr Michael James Francis, Managing Director at BioVacc Consulting Ltd, UK, said:
“This report on veterinary vaccines is very timely in light of the recently highlighted risk posed by zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and the importance of collaboration between human and veterinary medicine in tackling any future pandemic disease threats.”

“The UK is a world leader in immunology and veterinary vaccine research, but to maintain this status and the significant economic benefits it brings to our country, we must continue to invest in the infrastructure, workforce and research excellence that make up this life-saving field for it to continue protecting the world against future threats,” stated the report.

It added despite underpinning significant advances in vaccines for animals and humans, the legacy of the UK’s pioneering research in veterinary vaccinology is under threat by a lack of investment in essential areas.

“Saving countless lives, veterinary vaccinology work is not only responsible for the eradication of rinderpest, a lethal cattle plague that inflicted substantial economic losses and famines in the 20th century but has also formed the foundations of indispensable vaccines for humans such as those used in the fight against COVID-19.”

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said: “The UK is a world leader in veterinary immunology and vaccinology but without sustained investment, we risk losing the significant economic benefit derived from our excellence and leadership in this area. Investing in all aspects of veterinary vaccinology, including research, skills development, collaborations and infrastructure, means investing in our future. This report shines a spotlight on the value of animal vaccination and calls to secure important funding to protect health, wealth and security within the UK and worldwide.”

The report underlined the importance of sustained investment in veterinary vaccinology to tackle significant global challenges ahead and make the most of the UK’s current strength and emerging opportunities in this area.

“Tackling infectious diseases in animals improves global food security, protects lives and livelihoods around the world, aids human vaccine development protecting our health and reduces the chances of pathogens jumping the species barrier into humans preventing future pandemics, all in all allowing our global societies and economies to thrive.”

The report made a series of recommendations to ensure the veterinary vaccinology sector is prepared to respond to emerging disease threats in the future.

  • Secure the future of funding for all aspects of veterinary vaccinology, from fundamental immunology and bio-secure research facilities through to the development and testing of novel vaccine technologies.
  • Invest in UK veterinary vaccine manufacturing capabilities in line with the recently established Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) for human vaccines.
  • Support career development for early career researchers, in order to build the future veterinary vaccine research workforce.
  • Prioritise a One Health approach, fostering close collaboration between human and veterinary medicine and investing in the development of effective, affordable and accessible animal vaccines that will protect against today’s diseases and those that are yet to emerge.
  • Build collaborations between with academic and industry partners and support global collaborative initiatives to help protect human and animal health worldwide.

“To ensure the numerous benefits from animal vaccines reach far and wide around the globe we must take action, investing in veterinary vaccinology today and protecting the communities of tomorrow,” added the report.

Professor Gary Entrican, Honorary Professor at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said: “The origins of modern vaccinology are firmly embedded in the animal-human interface, perfectly exemplified by Edward Jenner’s pioneering experiments on vaccination against smallpox. We must never lose sight of the fact that animals and humans share a common ecosystem and that vaccines provide a unique, sustainable route to global wellbeing for all.”

The report underlined the importance of sustained investment in veterinary vaccinology to tackle significant global challenges ahead and make the most of the UK’s current strength and emerging opportunities in this area.

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