Newborn death due to infection remains one of the biggest threats to life across the human life span and across the globe. Vaccination can save millions of lives every year, but vaccines given to newborns a) induce protection too late, and b) do not cover the many pathogens that can infect newborns. We need to change our approach to begin making a difference. Increasing the newborn’s resilience to infection, i.e., focusing on the host rather than the pathogen, is one such alternative approach. For example, we have shown that the vaccine targeting tuberculosis (BCG) increases newborn resistance to a broad range of pathogens far beyond tuberculosis that are causing severe infection in newborns (sepsis). While supported by ample data, the dogmatic thinking amongst many vaccinologists (‘one vaccine targeting one pathogen’) is what stands in the way to make this pathogen-agnostic approach benefit all. Thus, the paradigm shift required now is to allow policy to be guided by data rather than dogma.
Professor of Systems Vaccinology at Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Australia.View Slides
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