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Urgent strategic investment in veterinary vaccinology is crucial to secure global health, wealth and security

Urgent strategic investment in veterinary vaccinology is crucial to secure global health, wealth and security, according to a new report published today by the British Society for Immunology and the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network. The UK is a world leader in immunology and veterinary vaccine research, but to maintain this status and the significant economic benefits it brings to our country, we must continue to invest in the infrastructure, workforce and research excellence that make up this life-saving field for it to continue protecting the world against future threats.

Despite underpinning significant advances in vaccines for animals and humans, the legacy of the UK’s pioneering research in veterinary vaccinology is under threat by a lack of investment in essential areas. Saving countless lives, veterinary vaccinology work is not only responsible for the eradication of rinderpest, a lethal cattle plague that inflicted substantial economic losses and famines in the 20th century, but has also formed the foundations of indispensable vaccines for humans such as those used in the fight against COVID-19.

The report underlines the importance of sustained investment in veterinary vaccinology to tackle significant global challenges ahead and make the most of the UK’s current strength and emerging opportunities in this area. Tackling infectious diseases in animals improves global food security, protects lives and livelihoods around the world, aids human vaccine development protecting our health and reduces the chances of pathogens jumping the species barrier into humans preventing future pandemics – all in all allowing our global societies and economies to thrive.

The report makes recommendations for the veterinary vaccinology sector to ensure we are prepared to respond to emerging disease threats in the future.

  • Secure the future of funding for all aspects of veterinary vaccinology, from fundamental immunology and biosecure research facilities through to the development and testing of novel vaccine technologies. 
  • Invest in UK veterinary vaccine manufacturing capabilities in line with the recently established Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) for human vaccines. 
  • Support career development for early career researchers, in order to build the future veterinary vaccine research workforce. 
  • Prioritise a One Health approach, fostering close collaboration between human and veterinary medicine and investing in the development of effective, affordable and accessible animal vaccines that will protect against today’s diseases and those that are yet to emerge.
  • Build collaborations between academic and industry partners and support global collaborative initiatives to help protect human and animal health worldwide.

To ensure the numerous benefits from animal vaccines reach far and wide around the globe we must take action, investing in veterinary vaccinology today and protecting the communities of tomorrow.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“The UK is a world leader in veterinary immunology and vaccinology but without sustained investment, we risk losing the significant economic benefit derived from our excellence and leadership in this area. Investing in all aspects of veterinary vaccinology, including research, skills development, collaborations and infrastructure, means investing in our future. This report shines a spotlight on the value of animal vaccination and calls to secure important funding to protect health, wealth and security within the UK and worldwide.”

Dr Tim Connelley, Director of the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network and Group Leader at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, said:
“During the development of the report it was a real pleasure to reflect on the massive beneficial impact research and development of veterinary vaccines has had both in the UK and globally. We hope that this strong foundation can be maintained and built upon by ensuring the continued support for future generations of veterinary vaccine researchers.”

Professor Gary Entrican, Honorary Professor at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, said:
“The origins of modern vaccinology are firmly embedded in the animal-human interface, perfectly exemplified by Edward Jenner's pioneering experiments on vaccination against smallpox. We must never lose sight of the fact that animals and humans share a common ecosystem and that vaccines provide a unique, sustainable route to global wellbeing for all.”

Dr Michael James Francis, Managing Director at BioVacc Consulting Ltd, UK, said:
“This report on veterinary vaccines is very timely in light of the recently highlighted risk posed by zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and the importance of collaboration between human and veterinary medicine in tackling any future pandemic disease threats.”

Dr Elma Tchilian, Chair of BSI’s Comparative & Veterinary Immunology Group and Head of Mucosal Immunology at The Pirbright Institute, said:
“This report highlights the unique strength of British veterinary vaccinology and immunology but indicates that increased investment in research and career development is essential to maintain this leading position.”

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Notes for editors
This report ‘Securing our future: the value of veterinary vaccines’ has been produced by the British Society for Immunology and the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network to raise awareness about the UK’s world-leading research status in veterinary vaccinology and the value of veterinary vaccines to global health, wealth and security. You can download a full copy of the report here

Media enquiries: Jennie Evans, Director of External Affairs; Tel: +44(0)7703 807 444; Email: j.evans@immunology.org

The British Society for Immunology is the leading UK membership organisation working with scientists and clinicians from academia and industry to forward immunology research and application around the world. Our friendly, accessible community consists of more than 4,200 immunologists, giving us a powerful voice to advocate for immunological science and health for the benefit of society. Find out more: www.immunology.org. Twitter: @britsocimm

The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network is an international community of over 1,500 members working together to develop improved vaccines for livestock and zoonotic diseases. The Network provides the opportunity to establish multi-partnered, international collaborations that bring together the diverse skills that can accelerate the development of vaccines for animal diseases that have significant impacts on societies in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Find out more: www.intvetvaccnet.co.uk. Twitter: @IntVetVaccNet