From the DHVI Director, Dr. Barton F. Haynes
As we start the new year 2019, it is important to take stock of what the needs are in society and what the Duke Human Vaccine Institute is about. The World Health Organization recently announced the WHO new 5-year strategic plan with the goals of ensuring one billion more people benefiting from access to universal health coverage, one billion more people protected from health emergencies, and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being. Here are ten of the major threats to global health that the WHO has listed: https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019. Importantly several of these are what DHVI directly works on, including prevention of a new global influenza pandemic, antibiotic resistance, dengue and HIV. Our influenza work continues to expand with new work to develop a pandemic influenza vaccine. With regard to HIV, DHVI continues to make great progress and has recently published new key papers on the path forward for an HIV vaccine. These include LaBranche et al. PLoS Pathogens 14: e1007431, 2018; Bonsignori et al. Immunity 49: 1162, 2018; Wagh, et al. Cell Reports 25: 893, 2018; Bradley et al. Cell 175: 387, 2018 and Wiehe et al. Cell Host and Microbe 23: 759, 2018. Together these papers outline a major new direction for our work that the HIV Vaccine Development team at Duke is now pursuing. DHVI now has completed one HIV vaccine candidate trial and has two other trials ongoing of other vaccine candidates—all part of an ongoing iterative process to perfect a successful HIV vaccine.
Finally, the WHO identified as a major global health threat “Vaccine Hesitancy” or the refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of highly effective vaccines, and noted vaccine hesitancy is threatening to lead to new epidemics of diseases for which we already have safe and effective vaccines. This threat has been recently discussed in an article in the New York Times on Sunday, January 20th, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/opinion/vaccines-public-health.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage, and emphasized many ways we can all work together to combat misinformation about safe vaccines.
In this New Year of 2019, let us all work together to do all we can to work on behalf of each of these threats to global health as listed above by the WHO: air pollution and climate change, non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, influenza pandemics, fragile and vulnerable settings (drought, famine, conflict and population displacement), antimicrobial resistance, Ebola and other high-threat pathogens, weak primary health care, vaccine hesitancy, dengue and HIV. DHVI is committed to continue to do our part to make the world an heathier and happier place in which to live.