Workshop on Universal Influenza Vaccines: Four years of European research on the development of universal influenza vaccines: what have we learnt and how can we move forward?
In 2013, the European Commission funded five consortia (EDUFLUVAC, FLUNIVAC, FLUTCORE, UNISEC and UNIVAX) with total funding of €25.5 million. The aim of these consortia was to develop influenza vaccines that protect the general population from both seasonal and pandemic influenza.
On June 14, 2017, with these five projects having finished or nearing completion, the European Commission Directorate organized a workshop on the next generation influenza vaccines. The aim was to establish the progress thus far in the field, to identify technical hurdles in the development of these vaccines, and to brainstorm about regulatory issues and public health challenges of universal influenza vaccines.
The workshop objectives were:
- To update regulators, policy makers and industry on the progress and achievements made by the five EU-funded consortia and hold discussions on technical, regulatory and policy hurdles;
- To identify areas of common interest in order to maximize potential opportunities for future collaboration;
- To take stock of the knowledge, achievements and conclusions from the discussions to inform funders and policy makers and specifically the Commission, in view of future research programs.
As demonstrated in the workshop, the current European pipeline for the next generation of influenza vaccines has promising candidates, efficient technology platforms and excellent scientific know-how. Influenza is a major area of concern for both pandemic preparedness – particularly with the current major concerns about avian influenza – as well as general public health. The very large complexity and costs involved in the further development of these and other leading candidate next generation influenza make an international approach to this issue extremely important. Funders were committed to finding the best way to progress in this crucial field of R&D.