How 'pop up' vaccine factories could help curb pandemics
By Harris Makatsoris
When there are outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases in developing countries - such as Ebola in West Africa and Zika in South America - it can take years before a vaccine is identified and reaches affected regions in quantities that can have a significant impact. And by this stage, of course, there have been devastating effects.
One issue is that pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to play an active role in preparations for pandemics, even when it comes to dangerous viruses that we know are present in the environment.
The market for vaccines makes up just three percent of the $1 trillion pharmaceuticals business - because procedures to develop a vaccine typically means years of testing and billions in investment funding.
Meanwhile, the global threat from pandemics is growing. Virus microbes evolve around 40 million times more quickly than human beings.
A new £10 million UK-funded project, the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Hub, is finding a new model. This will include a faster process for finding and testing vaccines alongside localised ‘pop-up’ factories that can get large supplies of vaccines to people within weeks of the threat having been identified.