Top Scientists Present Progress on Vaccines for SARS, Pandemic Influenza and Other Lethal Infectious Diseases

GENEVA -- More than 150 top scientists,

researchers and public health experts from around the world met last week in

Switzerland to present, debate and offer expert advice on cutting

edge vaccine research and development, as well as vaccine policy and

implementation.

Scientists are striving to tackle many old and newly emerging infectious

diseases by developing new vaccines and improving technologies and tools. New

manufacturers of vaccine are playing an ever-increasing role in the production

of sufficient vaccines to immunize the world's children.

Immunization stands out as one of the greatest public health achievements

of the 20th century, saving millions of lives. Smallpox was eradicated in

1979; polio, once a global epidemic, will soon be eradicated; neonatal tetanus

has been eliminated from many countries; and measles deaths have decreased by

30 percent globally since 1999.

Among the issues covered in the Global Vaccine Research Forum held June 3-10, 2004

were:

-- SARS: The needs for a public health response in case of a resurgence,

the status of development of vaccines in China, the United States and

Europe, and the extent to which such vaccines could boost the response

of the immune system;

-- Influenza: The modeling of a potential pandemic, the H5N1 avian

influenza outbreak in 2004 and international response, the development

of several vaccines and the industry perspective;

-- Measles and Rubella: The potential advantages of aerosol and jet-

injector delivery of vaccine in mass vaccination campaigns and safety

issues under consideration;

-- Meningitis: Enhanced surveillance in Africa (where over 250 million

people in the "meningitis belt" from Ethiopia to Senegal are at risk

of contracting meningococcal meningitis) and research and development

of vaccines in India and industrialized countries;

-- New vaccines for old bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, which is

among the common causes of the dangerous presence of bacteria in the

blood (bacteraemia);

-- Vaccine manufacturing in developing countries;

-- The state of progress toward vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and

tuberculosis.

Source: World Health Organization

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