At the World Economic Forum this year, Bill Gates announced the Decade of Vaccines with a $10 billion commitment from his Foundation to support its aims and objectives. His projections suggested that expanding the use of existing and new vaccines can prevent more than 8 million deaths by 2020.
The unprecedented commitment by the Gates Foundation is going to go a long way, but the challenges of achieving the goal go beyond the financial limits of the Foundation and are not going to be solved by money alone. Success will require the support of a variety of stakeholders across the public and private sectors, and ensuring that all the moving parts work together is a tall order.
Maximizing the impact of vaccines requires continued research, evidence-based policies, a health infrastructure with trained health care workers and consistent supplies of affordable, quality vaccines. These are the keys in complex chain that delivers the life-saving power of a vaccine from a laboratory to a child in the developing world.
That's why last week, the Gates Foundation and key partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), announced a new collaboration of the world's leading vaccine experts to develop a Global Vaccine Action Plan.
It's easy to be skeptical and to criticize this as the beginning of a new "plandemic" - sarcastically defined as an uncontrolled outbreak of planning triggered by the identification of plausible new ways to die. But, in fact, this effort is timely and necessary.
There are many stakeholders in the world of vaccination: the scientists who discover and develop the vaccines, the manufacturers that produce them, the organizations that advocate for their use, the policymakers who develop health budgets, the donors that make vaccine purchase possible, and the health care workers in last-mile communities that actually deliver the lifesaving shots. With so much on the line and with this many players on the team, coordination is key to achieving our shared vision. As a member of the Steering Committee tasked with helping to guide this coordination, I and look forward to working with colleagues around the world to ensure that we do everything we can to make it a success.