South Africa Must Harness the Power of Human and Veterinary Medicine Before the Next Deadly Virus Strikes

analysis

A One Health approach to vaccine development has many strengths, including for health and food security on the continent. But this country needs to boost its capacity now.

The need for next-generation animal vaccines coupled with the threat of future pandemics, points to the need for a One Health approach to developing jabs - besides, most major human vaccine makers owe their strength to having both human and veterinary vaccine capacity.

The One Health initiative is "dedicated to improving the lives of all species - human and animal - through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine and environmental science". The importance of the approach can be seen when one realises that six out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic (spread from animals) and seven out of 10 of emerging or re-emerging infections are vector-borne or zoonotic. There is particular interest in developing low-cost products for point-of-care diagnostics that could also be used as vaccines for animals and possibly for humans, since these diseases mainly affect people and animals in developing countries and resources to study them are often lacking. In addition, commercial reagents are frequently not available or excessively expensive for low-resource countries, and are not...

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