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Fiocruz participates in PAHO workshop on vaccines


Gabriella Ponte (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz)


The Immunobiological Technology Institute (Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz) is participating in the Regional Workshop on evidence-based vaccine introduction, monitoring and assessment: The case of the COVID-19 and PCV vaccines, promoted by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) from March 13th to 15th. The event aims to discuss the process and body of evidence to support policy making related to vaccine introduction and its assessment, using concrete case studies. Examples of selected regional studies and their use in vaccination policy making are being presented, including COVID-19 vaccines and pneumococcal vaccines.

The event aimed to discuss the process and the set of evidence to support the formulation of policies related to the introduction of vaccines and their evaluation (photo: Manuela Machado)

Among the participants of the meeting were representatives from all Latin American countries, selected Caribbean countries, and regional and global immunization stakeholders. Representing Fiocruz at the opening table was the Deputy Director of Quality at Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz, Rosane Cuber.

The PAHO/WHO Regional Head of Immunization in Washington (USA), Daniel Salas, stated that after the investments that the countries made during the pandemic, the health outlook for the region is much better than it was in the past. “However, we are concerned about the risk of recurrence of vaccine-preventable diseases and possible deaths. Over the next three years, the expectation is to introduce vaccines for 11 different diseases, which will be incorporated into the region's vaccination plans, including targets such as cancer and dengue. Our intention is to analyze the impacts of the pandemic, exchange experiences, and leave here with a broader view of the next steps regarding collective health in Latin America and the Caribbean”.

Lely Guzmán, representing Socorro Gross, of PAHO/WHO in Brazil, reinforced that Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz is a key piece in the research and development of vaccines in the arms of all Brazilians. “However, it is necessary to combat vaccine hesitancy and, to this end, new strategies should be implemented not only in Brazil but throughout the region. It is necessary to strengthen scientific research and articulate actions and policies to encourage vaccination”. 

Rosane Cuber commented that one of the biggest lessons learned during the pandemic is that investments are needed in health and science, from basic research to industrial scale production. “We have introduced in the [National Immunization Program] PNI, in 2011, the pneumococcal 10 vaccine, protecting children all over Brazil. By advancing vaccination with this immunizer and the COVID-19 vaccine, we have been able to significantly decrease severe cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the target population”.

The deputy director expressed what she expected from the meeting. “What we are going to achieve here is getting to know the different realities, assess the plurality of the region, and discuss policies that make access to biotechnology more equitable. Bio-Manguinhos was selected by the WHO as the center for development and production of vaccines with Messenger RNA technology in Latin America. The unit was chosen due to the promising advances in the technological development of an mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, currently in the pre-clinical stage. We saw, in the case of COVID-19, how crucial partnerships were to accelerate the development and production of vaccines. This is an ideal time to share the data, analysis, and decisions we have made over the last few years to better detect and respond to subsequent public health emergencies. Our region needs to be more strengthened and prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic”.

For the Senior Scientific Advisor at Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz, Akira Homma, disseminating evidence-based science will be more assertive in the combat against vaccine hesitancy. “In the last six years, vaccine coverage has dropped significantly. Showing scientific data will restore the trust and credibility that the population used to have with regard to science. It is essential to have this opportunity that we have at this event to discuss proposals on how to reverse this situation and strengthen the importance of vaccines and vaccination”, he highlighted.

The Director of the Immunization and Immuno-Preventable Diseases Department of the Health and Environment Surveillance Department (SVSA) of the Ministry of Health (MS), Eder Gatti, stressed that Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz is one of the main producers of vaccines in this region and is committed to the improvement of vaccination coverage, which has been suffering progressive declines. “This greatly concerns us. We came with the purpose of articulating and developing public policies for this major challenge.

This involves guaranteeing our stocks, a robust and integrated electronic system, and improvements in the logistics and distribution of immunizers across the country. It is also important that we extend the opening hours of vaccination rooms to reach even more people in vaccination campaigns. I am sure that neighboring countries also have challenges like ours and this meeting will make us stronger. It is necessary to assess the impact of the vaccines being applied and the epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 serotypes so that the immunizer can equitably reach everyone”.

The Coordinator of the Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz Clinical Advisory, Maria de Lourdes Maia, and the Pediatric Infectologist, Tatiana Noronha, are participating in the technical working groups.

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