COVID-19 and other adult vaccines can drive global disease prevention

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a renewed recognition of the importance of disease prevention and public health globally. The progress in COVID-19 vaccine technology is a small portion of the pipeline of new vaccines and injectable therapies that could prevent leading causes of premature death and disability. This pipeline comes from decades of investment by governments and work by pharmaceutical companies, academic researchers, and new entrants in the field. The urgent need for new COVID-19 vaccines has also accelerated developments in this pipeline. Mirroring success during the past 50 years with the Expanded Programme on Immunization for children, global life course vaccination and other preventive strategies that use these products would strengthen health systems globally and have a major impact on disease prevention.

In the adult vaccine space, new products at multiple stages of preclinical and clinical development for coronaviruses, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are expected to emerge in the coming months and years.1,  2,  3 These could become staple products for reducing adult disease burden, particularly in winter. Although the global burden of these diseases is difficult to estimate due to insufficient data in many countries, it is likely to be considerable. For example, estimates suggest that influenza causes 389 000 deaths annually, with the majority of cases in southeast Asia, the Western Pacific region, and sub-Saharan Africa, and that at least 14 000 hospital-based deaths are caused by RSV acute respiratory infection globally, although this is likely to be an underestimation of total deaths from RSV.4,  

5 As durability of vaccine-induced immune response is likely to remain a challenge, an annual immunisation cycle for these infectious diseases is possible and would have real population-level health benefits.

Author list



  1. Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA (DBA);
  2. Oxford University, Medical Sciences Division, Headington, Oxford, UK (JB);
  3. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Le Grand-Saconnex, Switzerland (AN);
  4. Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Dakar, Senegal (AAS)


David B Agus1, Aurélia Nguyen3, Amadou Alpha Sall4, John Bell2

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2


The Lancet