Guest blog: Hefty package from vaccine product development pipelines – confident for the year ahead27.03.2023
Vaccines should be used more effectively.
Finland’s health care expenditures amount to 22 billion euros, of which the vaccination programme covers just 0,14 %. Of the EU member states 77 % spend below 0,5 percent of their health care budget on their vaccination programme. Here in Finland, as well as in EU member states in general, very little is invested in vaccination programmes, and funding has not increased anywhere in the last five years. Even though vaccines have been found to be the most cost-effective means for preventing illnesses. A comprehensive, routine vaccination programme could prevent 20 infectious diseases and related cancers at all stages of life.
New vaccines are constantly developed, but the benefits are not received when implementation is slow
Vaccines Europe published a pipeline review of its 15 member companies in December 2022. The review opens up a view into the development of 100 new vaccine candidates. 92 of these are prophylactic vaccines and 8 are therapeutic vaccines used to treat illnesses.
Nearly half of the vaccines being developed target infectious diseases for which no vaccines are registered as of yet. The goal is to develop vaccines for current and future health threats, such as disease burdens caused by various infections, antibiotic resistance and especially population ageing.
The health, well-being, productivity and functioning benefits achievable through vaccination are missed out on, when vaccines as a preventative measure are not fully utilized.
The review also highlights that in the EU vaccines are introduced into national vaccination programmes at very different paces. Introducing a new vaccine takes up to over six years in a third of all EU member states. Unfortunately, Finland belongs to this third, as new vaccines are introduced on a large scale rather slowly here.
Here in Finland we do, however, have various means to make faster introduction of vaccines possible by, for example, making sure the relevant authorities have the resources they need for evaluating vaccines. At the moment, delays are causing unnecessary costs as the health and productivity benefits of new vaccines are introduced to society rather slowly.
Vaccination programme for adults should be developed alongside national children’s vaccination programme
Vaccination programmes and schedules for children are established everywhere in Europe, including, and especially in Finland, but for adult vaccinations this is not the case. For adults, taking care of your vaccination protection is mainly your own responsibility at your own cost. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how destructive an infectious disease can be to the adult population. Health inequalities and inequality between socio-economic groups are also highlighted.
Finland needs a national vaccination programme strategy. Vaccines are an investment into the health, productivity and functioning of the whole population and a means to increase health care capacity. That is why we should be ready to prioritise and carry out comprehensive life-course vaccination programmes efficiently. We can reach this goal by recognising the value of vaccines to society, in other words, by evaluating and recognising the benefits of vaccines comprehensively.
You can view the Vaccine Europe review here.