Comparing research and development, launch, and scale up timelines of 18 vaccines: lessons learnt from COVID-19 and implications for other infectious diseases.
Over the next decade, millions of deaths could be prevented by increasing access to vaccines in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the research and development (R&D), launch and scale up timelines of vaccines can be drastically shortened. This study compares such timelines for eighteen vaccines and identifies lessons and implications for accelerating the R&D, launch and scale up process for other vaccine candidates. To replicate the rapid R&D process of the COVID-19 vaccines, future vaccine R&D should capitalise on public-private knowledge sharing partnerships to promote technology innovation, establish regional clinical trial centres and data sharing networks to optimise clinical trial efficiency, and create a funding mechanism to support research into novel vaccine platforms that may prove valuable to quickly developing vaccine candidates in future global health emergencies. To accelerate the launch timeline, future efforts to bring safe and efficacious vaccines to market should include LMICs in the decision-making processes of global procurement and delivery alliances to optimise launch in these countries, strengthen the WHO prequalification and Emergency Use Listing programs to ensure LMICs have a robust and transparent regulatory system to rely on, and invest in LMIC regulatory and manufacturing capacity to ensure these countries are vaccine self-sufficient. Lastly, efforts to accelerate scale up of vaccines should include the creation of regional pooled procurement mechanisms between LMICs to increase purchasing power among these countries and an open line of clear communication with the public regarding pertinent vaccine information to combat misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.