A one health approach to vaccine development has many strengths, including health and food security on the continent. But this country needs to increase its capacity now, write Professor Ed Rybicki and Professor Anna-Lise Williamson of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Baptiste Dungu, CEO of Onderstepoort Biological Products.
The need for next generation animal vaccines coupled with the threat of future pandemics indicates the need for an animal vaccine One health Approach to Jab Development – Also, most of the major human vaccine manufacturers owe their strength to the human and veterinary vaccine capacity.
The One Health initiative aims to “improve the life of all species – humans and animals – by integrating human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental sciences”. The importance of the approach shows when you realize that six out of ten infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic (distributed by animals) and seven out of ten new or recurring infections are vector transmitted or zoonotic. There is particular interest in developing inexpensive products for point-of-care diagnostics that can also be used as vaccines for animals and possibly humans, as these diseases primarily affect humans and animals in developing countries and often lack resources to deal with examine them. In addition, for resource-poor countries, commercial reagents are often unavailable or excessively expensive and unavailable in times of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
The types of emerging zoonotic pathogens that affect One Health include:
- Those that are transmitted directly from wildlife to humans (such as hantaviruses; rodent-borne arenaviruses of African interest such as Lujo and Lassa fevers; rabies virus; SARS and SARS2 coronaviruses);
- Active ingredients that come from wild animals and then spread from person to person (such as HIV-1 and -2; Ebola and Marburg viruses; SARS and SARS2);
- Agents that are transmitted to humans from wildlife to domestic animals (such as nipah and hendra henipaviruses; MERS and possibly SARS2);
- Those who switch from wild animals to pets are then transmitted between humans in the long term (such as pandemic influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2). and
- Vector transmitted viruses using an animal amplification host and transmitted by arthropod vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks, Culicoides spp. Mosquitoes and sand flies for sensitive animals and people, where they can cause serious diseases. These include West Nile Virus, Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV), Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Virus (CCHFV), and emerging arboviruses such as Zika virus and endemic arthropod-borne viruses such as African equine disease virus (AHSV) ), Shunivirus and Middelburg virus.
CCHFV, RVFV, SARS, MERS, Nipah and Henipaviruses as well as the future “pathogen X” (in the current case SARS-CoV-2) were listed as priority pathogens by the World Health Organization due to the propensity of these viruses to cause serious illness with death and the lack of therapeutic treatments or vaccines. The recent emergence of Covid-19 from SARS-CoV-2 is a terrifying example of the emergence of Pathogen X and what can happen. More worryingly, South Africa has been unable to respond by making vaccines or therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies or antivirals, or even basic diagnostics. The fact that this happened more than 10 years after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic caught us similarly unpreparedThis means that we are overdue to take action to combat emerging pathogens – but also to provide capacities that are lacking in the South African health landscape for humans and animals. We find that despite proven local capacity Candidates for pandemic influenza vaccines and an alleged government obligation to make them since 2009We don’t have any flu vaccine manufacturing.
The strength of the One Health approach is illustrated by the recurring Rift Valley fever and the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses. Local production of virus proteins, what was done from one of our laboratories could provide unique reagents for inexpensive virus monitoring and vaccine candidates in animals and humans if they prove effective. Another example is the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to breeding mink in Denmark (referred to as “reverse zoonosis”) and its rapid mutation in this host and its immediate retransmission to humans. The availability of a candidate vaccine for use in animals would have prevented this, and Saved millions of minks.
A one health approach to vaccine development has several strengths. In fact, the majority of the major human vaccine manufacturers owe their strength to the human and veterinary vaccine capacity (Pfizer before the spin-off of Zoetis; Sanofi and Merial, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis). In addition, emerging economies like India and China have built their vaccine industries by leveraging knowledge from both sectors. It is faster and cheaper to evaluate new vaccine technologies, adjuvants, toxicity and immunogenicity in animals before using the technologies to manufacture human products.
A good example is the Indian biopharmaceutical organization Indian Immunological. The animal vaccine facility is also located in a Parastatal Valley established by the Indian National Dairy Development Board and established in the same year (1999) as South Africa’s only manufacturer of veterinary vaccines. Onderstepoort biological products. Using these facilities and expertise, they have been able to build a very successful vaccine capacity for humans. Their rabies vaccine, which was originally veterinary, was later developed into a human vaccine. They now make a wider range of vaccines for humans, generating significantly more sales than the animal vaccines division – and are even working on a Covid-19 vaccine. The human vaccine department was set up a regulated distance from the animal vaccine facility, but on the same large property that the company owns. The research and development unit and other services are shared with the approval of regulators, which is the case in other parts of the world.
South Africa has excellent capacity and facilities for advanced research and production of reagents and vaccine candidates on a laboratory scale. These include research groups at universities and parastatal institutes and their laboratories, as well as technologies for live viral vectors, protein production in subunits, and laboratory animal experiments. What is missing are facilities for large animals to test veterinary vaccines and current pilot-scale manufacturing facilities in line with good manufacturing practice, as well as one or more facilities in the country that can manufacture vaccines for humans.
With the need for next generation animal vaccines in Africa, coupled with vaccine prep for the next pandemic, building a One Health vaccine capacity makes sense and will have a positive impact on health and food security in Africa. And we need to build that capacity now before Virus Y shows up.
Ed Rybicki is a member of the Biopharming Research Unit, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town. Baptiste Dungu is at Onderstepoort Biological Products in Pretoria. Anna-Lise Williamson works at the Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine in the Department of Health Sciences at UCT.
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