Urgent need for innovation
Vaccines have changed the world and saved hundreds of millions of lives. But infectious diseases remain the second leading cause of death worldwide, disproportionately affecting children under the age of 5 and people in low-income countries. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million people die each year from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines. This points to an urgent need for innovation in vaccine delivery and administration technology.
Reducing the logistical challenges
An oral vaccine platform is the innovation the world needs now. iosBio’s OraPro platform could transform vaccine programs in developing countries, permitting the rapid and widespread distribution of lifesaving immunity. With no need for healthcare professionals, the cost savings would be significant – training and mobilizing healthcare workers can account for up to 25% of the cost of introducing a new vaccine. The practical challenges of transporting injectable vaccines that require consistent storage at cold or ultra-cold temperatures across countries that don’t have reliable electricity would be eliminated. Lastly, delivering oral vaccines leaves very little trace, whereas injectables generate huge amounts of biohazardous waste that developing countries don’t have the infrastructure to dispose of.
The market for oral vaccine technology in the developing world is therefore enormous. Oral vaccines could effect huge societal and economic change in poorer countries. For every dollar currently invested in vaccination in the world’s 94 lowest-income countries, $16 are saved in healthcare costs, lost wages and lost productivity due to illness and death. If we include broader benefits, like the value of people living healthier, longer lives and the long-term burden of disability, the net return increases to $44 per dollar invested. These values would increase dramatically if the cost of vaccination programs was reduced and their reach expanded.
Removal of the cold chain
In the developed world, the pressures on cost and the challenges of the cold chain are considerably less. But we are now seeing how the practical requirements of an injected vaccine restrict the rollout of national mass vaccination programs, even with the maximum amount of funding available. Every day spent under lockdown further damages the economy and people’s mental health. The UK rollout has been as successful as anyone might have hoped, yet it will still take several months to immunise the adult population. An oral vaccine could accomplish this is a few short weeks.