In the 20th century between 300 and 500 million people died from smallpox, an infectious disease now eradicated by vaccination.
Without vaccines there would be much more cases of infectious diseases
everywhere in the world. But we need still more vaccines and some
vaccines should be improved.

Look at the numbers (WHO, 2012):
HIV/AIDS:1.7 million deaths
Malaria:627 000 deaths
Tuberculosis:1.3 million deaths

Vaccine
development is a long (about 16 years) and expensive (several 100
millions €) process. It is also a complicated process with several
players. Universities, public research institutes and biotech companies
are involved in early stage research (discovery). Often they continue to
test vaccines in animals, providing proof of principle for efficacy and
safety. Pharmaceutical companies usually carry out the clinical studies
to test the vaccines and produce vaccines. Finally, government agencies
decide whether the safety and efficacy of a vaccine is sufficient
before admitting it to the market.

Almost everybody has come in
contact with vaccines, but to improve vaccines and to develop new
vaccines, vaccine specialists with knowledge on the entire process of
vaccine development are needed. Therefore, we started ‘VacTrain’, an
EU-funded training network consisting of 8 academic and industrial
partners in vaccine research and development. VacTrain started in 2012. 11 young researchers
are presently working on their PhD studies and are at the same time
trained to become vaccinologists. In later blogs you will hear more from
them. We will also update you on new developments from within the Vaccine
World.

Authors: Dr. Wendy van Hemmen and Prof. Ben van der Zeijst