Vaccines represent some of the most impactful advances in public health.  Smallpox was once the most deadly disease on earth, but with the use of vaccines the last natural outbreak occurred in 1949 and smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.

U.S. vaccination requirements have led to the elimination of once highly contagious infectious diseases in children including polio in 1994, measles in 2000 and rubella in 2004.  Sixteen diseases are now preventable as a result of childhood vaccines and routine immunization.

Most of our attention is on the development of vaccines for COVID-19 but there are currently 258 vaccines in development for the treatment or prevention of disease as reported by

  • 108 vaccines for cancer including a therapeutic vaccine for non-small cell lung cancer, which uses messenger RNA to mobiilze the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor.
  • 125 vaccines for infectious diseases including a vaccine designed to prevent HIV infection by teaching a patient’s immune system to recognize and effectively fight the virus.
  • 14 vaccines for allergies, including vaccines that target peanut allergies.
  • 2 vaccines for Alzheimer’s disease, including one therapeutic vaccine that targets amyloid beta protein, which is linked to the development of the neurological disorder.
  • 70 vaccines for COVID-19 in the global research pipeline.
  • 6 vaccines for COVID-19 in human clinical trials.

The rapid pace of COVID-19 vaccine development is a testament to the lessons learned from past vaccine R&D and strong partnerships across countries, businesses and research centers.  The tremendous success of vaccines thus far is being built on with more innovative vaccines expected in the future.

FiercePharma highlights the top late-stage vaccine programs to watch in 2020 outside of COVID-19.

Pfizer and Merck are both developing advanced valent pneumococcal vaccines.  Pfizer is building on their $5.85 billion Prevnar 13, the world’s best selling vaccine, to protect against an additional seven serotypes.

Pfizer and GSK are in a head-to-head race for next-gen meningitis vaccines.  GSK leads with $1.3 billion in sales for 2020 but Pfizer’s Nimenrix and Trumenba are competing strongly.

Johnson & Johnson  is pressing ahead on an HIV vaccine even though the filed has experienced so many setbacks.  They are partnering with the Gates Foundation, the National Institute of allergy and Infectious Diseases and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

Novovax has an improved flu vaccine and has been staffing up their C-Suite to support the expected FDA approval of this product. They have also been working for years to advance its RSV vaccine program. RSV causes 57,000 hospitalizations of infants and 177,000 hospitalizations of older adults every year and this would be the first vaccine for this disease.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the pharmaceutical world.  Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Executive Recruiter, Nihar Parikh at [email protected] to talk about your job search or open position in the pharmaceutical industry.


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