CREAL. Centre for research in environmental epidemiology


Home > News

Back to newsNews

Myron Levine: "Vaccines are a powerful weapon of mass protection"

Dr. Myron Levine gave the sixth Global Health Lecture on vaccine development

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Myron Levine:

Last Wednesday, March 18th, Dr. Myron M. Levine, director of the Center for Vaccine Development (USA), gave the sixth Global Health Lecture, a series of conferences organized by ISGlobal in which worldwide experts address different global health themes.  Dr. Levine discussed the importance of vaccines as a global health strategy and how the current Ebola crisis has changed the rules in vaccine development. 

Dr. Levine started his talk by defining vaccines as "the most cost-effective specific medical intervention ever developed". It not only protects the individual, but also the community and can eliminate diseases at the national or regional level (as was done with polio in Latin America) and even at the global level (as for smallpox or type 2 polio).  "Introduction of the measles vaccine in USA led to a 90% decrease of cases in only a few years" Dr. Levine pointed out, and explained that the remaining 10% is difficult to achieve due to the highly infectious nature of the disease. 

Levine explained that the entire process required for developing a vaccine takes between 8 and 15 years and costs 60 to 900 million USD. However, this has drastically changed with the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, where unprecedented efforts have been made to accelerate the testing and validation of candidate vaccines.  "Only 60 days passed between WHO's appeal and the first Malian subject vaccinated with one of the candidate vaccines" he said, underlining the fact that this is the first vaccine that passes directly from clinical phase I (that determines safety) to phase III (that measures efficacy) without passing through phase II (that determines optimal dose and schedule). According to Levine, the best strategy to determine vaccine efficacy in the current settings is the one that will be applied in Guinea. The so-called ‘ring vaccination' consists in vaccinating contacts of each new case and is the same strategy that was used in smallpox vaccination. Dr. Levine trusts that even if the vaccine does not confer long-lasting protection, the next Ebola outbreak can be nipped in the bud with good surveillance and by applying ring vaccination.   

Finally, Dr. Levine cautioned against the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement among some affluent communities in developed countries, and concluded that "vaccines represent our most powerful weapon of mass protection".

Dr. Levine has a longstanding experience in vaccinology: he participated in the smallpox eradication campaign, formed part of the first work group of the Global Alliance for Vaccination (known as GAVI) and funded the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) in Maryland, which he still directs. Since August 2014 he has been in the frontline collaborating with WHO in the development of an Ebola vaccine.   


Communications Manager:
Raül Toran

(+34) 93 214 73 33
(+34) 696 912 841


ISGlobal - Campus Mar · Doctor Aiguader, 88 · E-08003 Barcelona · Tel +34 93 214 73 00 · Fax +34 93 214 73 02 · e-mail: RSS


Scientific context: