World Antibiotic Awareness Week – experts to gather in Kenya

Illustrative image of the globe receiving vaccination

Bacterial infections cause at least 20% of all deaths worldwide.

That’s a startling figure, and it’s particularly problematic in low and middle income countries (LMICs) where five million people lose their lives to bacterial infections each year.

Now, funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is enabling experts in bacterial vaccination developments to convene in Kenya – itself an LMIC – to bring scientists into the heart of the antibiotic resistance challenge.

The University of Birmingham-based BactiVac Network brings together over 890 members from the academic, industry and policy sectors across 70 countries, and was launched in 2017 to address these challenges with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Medical Research Council.

Professor Cal MacLennan, Director of the BactiVac Network, explained: “Vaccines are a cost-effective approach to prevent infectious disease and do save millions of lives each year, however, there are many bacterial infections without any licensed vaccine and we must work collaboratively with partners across the globe to rapidly change this.”

From March 24th to 27th 2020 in Kilifi, Kenya, the BactiVac Network will host its 3rd Annual Network Meeting, which is being partly funded thanks to a $100,000 award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The meeting will promote collaboration and understanding of the challenges faced in developing new vaccines and will include talks by internationally renowned speakers on a range of disciplines from the basic science underpinning vaccine development to commercial production and delivery.

Professor Cunningham, Co-Director of the BactiVac Network hosted in the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, and Institute of Microbiology and Infection, added: “We are committed to involving LMICs and there are many benefits to hosting our third annual network meeting in Kenya.

“It will highlight the strengths of LMIC-focused research to our membership and attendees will witness first-hand the facilities and environment from where research is translated into real vaccines to benefit local communities.

“We are thrilled to secure funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this event, which will ultimately enable us to bring more of our membership together in what will be a transformative event in the role that LMICs have in bacterial vaccine development.”

Dr Martin Broadstock, Programme Manager for Immunology and Vaccines at the Medical Research Council, said: “Our goal through the GCRF networks is to accelerate vaccine research and development. This additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help BactiVac enormously by encouraging enhanced collaborations between its members from across the globe.”