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Increasing Epidemic Potentials with the Emergence of COVID-19 Pandemic: Expanding the Vaccines Market

   October 25, 2021

Vaccines are the cornerstone of managing infectious disease outbreaks and are the unquestionable means to defuse pandemic and epidemic risk. The faster a vaccine is deployed, the faster an outbreak can be controlled. Since the first vaccine for smallpox, vaccines have continued and proved to be cost-effective to prevent diseases. Therefore, due to its benefits, the demand and adoption for vaccination are continually rising. Over the last decade, vaccine development has received huge support from the pharmaceutical industry and governments due to successful vaccination programs that helped eradicate infectious diseases such as chickenpox and polio globally.

The world today is increasingly becoming interconnected, where cross-border traveling allows diseases to spread quicker. Today, many vaccine manufacturers are focusing their efforts on developing vaccines to prevent diseases of epidemic potential, and subsequently improving the priority of such vaccines globally and creating market potential. The unprecedented scale and rapid dissemination of emerging infectious diseases pose new challenges for vaccine developers, regulators, health authorities, and political constituencies. Vaccine manufacturing and distribution are complex and challenging. While speed is essential, clinical development to emergency use authorization and licensure, pharmacovigilance of vaccine safety, and surveillance of virus variants are also critical.

According to Avert (UK-based charity), in 2019, 38.4 million people were living with HIV, and most people with HIV infection lived in the middle- and low-income countries, out of which 68% lived in sub-Saharan Africa. Among these, 20.6 million lived in East and Southern Africa, 53.0% of new HIV infections globally. Also, since it emerged in November 2019, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of people diagnosed. COVID-19 has led to a rise in the mortality rate globally. For instance, as per the WHO, as of 29th July 2021, there were 195.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4.2 million deaths due to the disease globally. Overall, 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged 65 years and over, with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged 85 years and over. This is expected to drive the need and demand for vaccines around the globe in the coming years.

Although vaccine development traditionally requires years to complete the necessary testing, governments and medical regulators accelerated their vaccine development processes due to the severity of the pandemic. As of July 2021, approximately 108 COVID-19 vaccines were in the clinical development phase, and 184 vaccines were in the pre-clinical development stage, while 21 were already approved. The FDA granted the ‘fast track’ status to several promising products. In July 2020, the FDA announced that Pfizer and Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) earned the ‘fast track’ designation for two COVID-19 vaccines, and as of December 2020, Britain's medicines regulator, the MHRA, had approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for mass vaccination.

Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated with scientists, businesses, and global health organizations to speed up the pandemic response through the ACT Accelerator. Several initiatives were undertaken to speed up vaccine development, boosting the growth of the vaccines market. For instance, in March 2020, the operation Warp Speed was launched by the U.S. government. Warp Speed was commissioned to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. Operation Warp Speed (OWS) collaborated with several U.S. federal government departments, including Health and Human Services and its subagencies, Agriculture, Energy, and Veterans Affairs, and the private sector. In addition to Warp Speed, global efforts to build a coronavirus countermeasure spanned every continent, with China, Russia, India, Australia, Germany, and the U.K. participating in the same. All of the above collaborative efforts is expected to expand the production of vaccines in the upcoming years

Thus, with the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases, the research activities to design vaccines are increasing with the simultaneous increase in the number of vaccines for infectious disease treatment. According to the Meticulous Research®, the global vaccines market is valued at USD 187 billion in 2021, with COVID-19 vaccines contributing USD 137 billion.

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