The next decade of vaccines: societal and scientific challenges

Lancet. 2011 Jul 23;378(9788):348-59. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60407-8. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Vaccines against microbial diseases have improved the health of millions of people. In the next decade and beyond, many conceptual and technological scientific advances offer extraordinary opportunities to expand the portfolio of immunisations against viral and bacterial diseases and to pioneer the first vaccines against human parasitic and fungal diseases. Scientists in the public and private sectors are motivated as never before to bring about these innovations in immunisation. Many societal factors threaten to compromise realisation of the public health gains that immunisation can achieve in the next decade and beyond--understanding these factors is imperative. Vaccines are typically given to healthy individuals and safety issues loom high on the list of public concerns. The public needs to regain confidence in immunisation and trust the organisations responsible for the research, development, and implementation of vaccines. In the past, by use of a judicious amalgam of knowledge and empiricism, successful vaccines were largely developed by microbiologists who identified antigens that induced immune responses to conserved pathogen components. In the future, vaccines need to be developed against deadly diseases for which this strategy is often not feasible because of the extensive antigenic variability of relevant pathogens. High microbial diversity means that immunity after natural infection is often ineffective for prevention of disease on subsequent exposure, for example in HIV infection and malaria. Additionally, vaccines need to be generated to protect the people who are most vulnerable because of age or underlying diseases. Thus, in the future, a much deeper understanding of the immunological challenges--including the diversifying role of host genetics and environmental factors, leading perhaps to more personalised approaches-will be the touchstone for rational design and development of adjuvants that result in novel safe and effective vaccines.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Trust*
  • Vaccination / trends*
  • Vaccines / immunology*
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Vaccines