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Restoring Vaccine Diplomacy

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

More than 60 years ago, the US and the USSR, while in the midst of the Cold War, collaborated to produce and scale a new oral polio vaccine and test it on millions of Soviet schoolchildren. The 3 poliovirus strains suitable for vaccine production were first developed in the laboratory of Albert Sabin and were sent (with US government approval) to the USSR, where Sabin then worked with Soviet science counterparts, including Mikhail Chumakov. These studies paved the way for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Later, in the 1960s, the USSR refined a technique for freeze-drying the smallpox vaccine, making it possible to deliver it intact to remote tropical areas. This innovation helped D.A. Henderson, a US epidemiologist, to lead a global smallpox eradication campaign under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO). In both cases, 2 political enemies put aside their differences to collaborate on solving great public health or pandemic threats.1 Both achievements helped to ignite a modern international framework of vaccine diplomacy for promoting scientific collaboration for vaccine development and ensuring vaccine equity.

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Article Information

Corresponding Authors: Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030 (hotez@bcm.edu); K. M. Venkat Narayan, MD,1518 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 (knaraya@emory.edu).

Published Online: May 28, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.7439

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Hotez reported being a developer of vaccines against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses as well as neglected tropical diseases, including Chagas disease, hookworm, schistotomiasis, and leishmaniasis, in which the vaccine technology is owned by Baylor College of Medicine and nonexclusively licensed to Biological E, one of India’s big vaccine manufacturers, that are either in development or clinical trials, for which he has not received compensation or remuneration. Dr Narayan was partly supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (award numbers P30DK111024 and 3P30DK111024-05S1).

Disclaimer: The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

References
1.
Hotez  PJ .  Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science. Johns Hopkins University Press; 2021.
2.
Gray  B , Edwards  N . Russian disinformation popularizes Sputnik V vaccine in Africa. Council on Foreign Relations. Published December 10, 2020. Accessed May 25, 2021. https://www.cfr.org/blog/russian-disinformation-popularizes-sputnik-v-vaccine-africa
3.
Mullard  A . How COVID vaccines are being divvied up around the world. Nature. November 20, 2020. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03370-6
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Holder  J . Tracking coronavirus vaccinations around the world. New York Times. April 21, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html
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Gettleman  J , Schmall  E , Mashal  M . India cuts back on vaccine exports as infections surge at home. New York Times. March 25, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/world/asia/india-covid-vaccine-astrazeneca.html
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Prahalad  CK .  The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits. Wharton School Publishing; 2005:401.
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Sinovac supplied 260 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses globally. Reuters. April 20, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/sinovac-supplied-260-mln-covid-19-vaccine-doses-globally-2021-04-20/
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Moutinho  S , Wadman  M . Is Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine safe? Brazil’s veto of Sputnik V sparks lawsuit threat and confusion. Science. April 30, 2021. Accessed May 26, 2021. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/russias-covid-19-vaccine-safe-brazils-veto-sputnik-v-sparks-lawsuit-threat-and
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Hotez  PJ .  Anti-science kills: from Soviet embrace of pseudoscience to accelerated attacks on US biomedicine.   PLoS Biol. 2021;19(1):e3001068. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3001068 PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Hotez  PJ .  COVID-19 vaccines: time to confront antivax aggression.   Nature. 2021;592(7856):661. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-01084-xPubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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