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Measuring vaccine-induced immunogenicity: British Society for Immunology report highlights opportunity to support future vaccine development for improved public health

Female scientist using micropipette


MSD fully funded and attended the roundtable meeting. This report was fully funded by MSD and was fact checked for accuracy and balance only. 


The British Society for Immunology has published a new policy report ‘Measuring vaccine-induced immunogenicity: Leveraging a COVID-19 legacy for improved public health' which calls for further study of immunogenicity to improve the evaluation of the effectiveness and value of vaccines for the advancement of public health.

This report aims to help policy makers and regulators, as well as clinicians, researchers and industry, to better understand, measure and utilise vaccine-induced immunogenicity for long-term benefit to patients and public health, and stronger pandemic preparedness in the UK.

The progress made in science, research infrastructure and innovative ways of working during the COVID-19 pandemic has given us an exceptional opportunity to enhance vaccine development, adoption and implementation through this key tool.

Informed by roundtable discussions with experts from academia, industry, government, regulators and clinical medicine, this report lays out recommended interventions to cement the legacy from COVID-19 and ultimately, bolster the UK’s pandemic preparedness and greatly benefit the NHS and the public.

The recommendations include:

  • Immunogenicity research being recognised as a central part of the UK's pandemic preparedness plans
  • Defining a toolbox of companion diagnostics to support vaccine development, licensing, and adoption
  • Establishing a UK vaccinology network based on pandemic models of working, with continued funding and strong leadership, to address key questions in immunogenicity
  • Further inclusion of people with weakened immune systems in research, licensing and surveillance programmes for vaccines
  • Developing methods for predicting how well a vaccine will prevent transmission through further research on mucosal immunity
  • Bridging the gap between immunogenicity studies and real-world data by continuing the use of point-of-care and at-home testing 
  • Standardisation of high-quality assays for immunogenicity including guidance to the scientific community on the requirements for development

We must leverage the progress in understanding and measuring immunogenicity from the COVID-19 pandemic into even more effective vaccines to protect and boost health for future generations. 

Professor Alex Richter, who chaired the roundtable for this report and is Director of the Clinical Immunology Service at the University of Birmingham, said: 
“Increasing our understanding about how vaccines provoke an immune response through measuring immunogenicity will make a significant difference in our ability to develop and deploy effective vaccines to protect our communities including the clinically vulnerable. This British Society for Immunology report explains how we can unlock immunogenicity’s full potential by breaking down barriers between academia, industry, clinical medicine, regulators, and government, and investing in our R&D sector to ensure that we have the funding, skills, and capacity to leverage the legacy of COVID-19 for the ultimate benefits of public health and pandemic preparedness.” 

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“The UK can only continue to be world leading in vaccine development and implementation through sustained investment in immunology and vaccine research, and by following the expert recommendations outlined in this report, immunogenicity can enable us to advance public health and bolster our pandemic preparedness. Now is the time to harness the incredible scientific progress from the COVID-19 pandemic and work together to maximise the benefits for those most at risk, our research and clinical sectors, and society as a whole.”