The global urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the development of new models of vaccine and drug development. Could these innovations help with researching non-pandemic vaccines or drugs, and potentially serve as a template in other areas of medicine?
Two papers recently published in Health Affairs suggest that, yes, these innovations could be applied elsewhere if deemed successful—but it’s also important to note the shortcomings of these new models as well.
Unprecedented speed and scale
No matter how you measure the COVID-19 vaccine effort, the acceleration of development and potential access to COVID-19 vaccines is “entirely without precedent,” David E. Bloom, PhD, professor in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues wrote in a recent analysis. The previous record-holder was the mumps vaccine, where a 4-year gap separated the isolation of the mumps virus and the licensure of the vaccine.
The speed of COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing, Bloom and colleagues noted, can be attributed to the “massive financial and human resources” dedicated to the effort on a global scale. For example, $13 billion has been attributed to Operation Warp Speed program in the United States, which includes at least $2.5 billion earmarked for vaccine development and the rest to advance purchase agreements. In the United Kingdom, $4 billion has been committed to vaccine financing and purchase agreements, while the European Union has allocated a similar amount. “Collectively, wealthy countries accounting for just 13 percent of global population now have rights to more than half of all committed vaccine doses,” Bloom and colleagues wrote…