With the European Immunisation Week in full swing, let’s take a closer look at projects that are developing new vaccines and debunking false claims about vaccination.
Under its research programmes (Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe), the European Union has been investing in research, technology and innovation to develop solutions to keep people healthy, prevent diseases and develop better diagnostics and more effective therapies.
HaDEA has been funding projects under the Horizon 2020 programme that are supporting this mission, working on:
- Developing new vaccines
The European AIDS Vaccine Initiative 2020 (EAVI2020) has focused on accelerating the identification and development of an effective preventative and therapeutic HIV vaccine. The project has initiated a total of seven clinical trials, of which two are therapeutic, and has generated ten novel vaccine candidates that have progressed to early clinical testing. Preliminary observations show that the vaccine candidates are well tolerated and highly immunogenic (able to produce an immune response in the body).
TBVAC2020 aims to innovate and diversify the current tuberculosis (TB) vaccine by supporting the development of new promising TB vaccine candidates. The project has identified and evaluated 25 new approaches that can be applied to the development of novel TB vaccine candidates and 13 new promising TB vaccine candidates. Overall, TBVAC2020 has contributed to making the TB vaccine portfolio more diverse and available to different target groups.
OpenCorona has developed a DNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 and started a phase I clinical trial. The project refers to this vaccine as a “universal COVID-19 vaccine” as it is designed to bring forth a strong neutralising antibody response directed against the Spike (S) and other viral proteins (the nucleoprotein and membrane protein), so it can induce a protective immune response against the diverse strains of the virus.
- Exploring misinformation about and hesitancy towards vaccines
JITSUVAX aims at investigating misinformation around vaccines, testing ways of countering it and helping healthcare professionals to better communicate with patients. JITSUVAX does so by identifying and analysing the anti-vaccination arguments, measuring the attitude of healthcare professionals and training them against misinformation.
VAX-TRUST is also exploring vaccine hesitancy and developing tools and actions to strengthen the knowledge of healthcare professionals.
The project will propose readily implementable recommendations for healthcare authorities and professionals on how to deal with vaccine hesitancy.
Collaboration with the EU health programmes
In December 2022, JITSUVAX and VAX-TRUST joined forces with IMMUNION, AcToVax4NAM and RISE-Vac projects, funded under the Third health programme. They published an article in Nature Communications on challenges regarding routine vaccine uptake in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The article provides recommendations on how to increase uptake, pointing to evidence-based resources that can support healthcare workers, policymakers and communicators.
Horizon Europe is the research and innovation programme of the EU for the period 2021-2027. The aims of Cluster 1 ‘Health’ include improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of citizens of all ages by generating new knowledge, developing innovative solutions and integrating a gender perspective to prevent, diagnose, monitor, treat and cure diseases.
Horizon 2020 (H2020) was the EU’s multiannual funding programme between 2014 and 2020.
Read more on this series - European Immunisation Week: projects working to increase vaccine uptake in Europe
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