Sabin to tackle pandemic flu

New project will support innovation and acceleration of universal flu vaccines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 8, 2018 – The Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit global health organization dedicated to enabling vaccine innovation, making vaccines more accessible and expanding immunization across the globe, is pleased to announce a new three-year $6.6 million grant to help speed the development of next generation influenza vaccines and support related immunization issues. This work is generously supported by the Page Family Donor Advised Fund.

“Sabin will draw worldwide attention to the need for better flu vaccines and a vaccine to protect against strains that could cause the next influenza pandemic,” said Bruce Gellin, Sabin’s president of Global Immunization. “Promising research is already underway, but we know we need to do more to ensure that a so-called ‘universal flu vaccine’ is available before we need it. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish flu, which is estimated to have infected 500 million people and killed some 50 million people, wiping out up to five percent of the world’s population. A century later, we must not wait any longer to develop the next generation flu vaccines that will eliminate the threat of a flu pandemic and seasonal flu.”

Seasonal flu causes an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 deaths worldwide, in the United States and other countries with health care systems. Most deaths associated with influenza occur among people age 65 or older.

The three-year grant will support a comprehensive advocacy approach to influenza that will complement and galvanize existing influenza research. Sabin will draw attention to the pressing need for a universal flu vaccine and bring new perspectives to invigorate influenza research. Sabin plans to establish an Influenza Leadership Council, composed of experts across sectors, to identify novel approaches and communicate the urgent need for next generation flu vaccines. Council members will use their expertise and networks to support influenza advocacy work, such as workshops and pandemic flu simulations, to engage the public. This grant will also support a project with the Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society Program to establish the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Strategy Group to consider influenza, as well as other pressing domestic and global vaccine issues.

“Leveraging our history of engaging on critical global health issues, we will stimulate bold thinking. Current approaches to controlling the flu aren’t enough,” said Amy Finan, Sabin’s chief executive officer. “The challenges of developing a vaccine for a complex virus like influenza are multifaceted, but overcoming them has the potential to improve – and save – the lives of millions of people around the world.”