The WHO reported in 2021 that pneumonia accounted for 14% of all deaths of children under 5. It is the “single largest infectious cause of death” in children. In 2019, it killed 740,180 worldwide. Caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, it can be prevented by “immunisation, adequate nutrition, and by addressing environmental factors”. 

Bill Gates writes in GatesNotes that “these solutions are often not available or accessible in many low- and middle-income countries, where children are at greatest risk”. The Gates Foundation is “focused on improving access to and development of vaccines” against pneumonia. Gates identifies the development of a new vaccine as “one of the most exciting areas of progress”. This vaccine targets pneumococcal bacteria, the leading cause of pneumonia.  

“What makes this new vaccine unique is that it is designed to protect against 25 different types of pneumococcal bacteria, more than any other available vaccine.” 

The vaccine at Inventprise 

The vaccine candidate Gates identifies is IVT-PCV-25. This is in development by Inventprise in the US. Inventprise announced in May that it had a new manufacturing facility for “high-capacity supply” of the 25-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. This facility was supported by a Gates Foundation grant and is “highly automated”. Inventprise stated that “production is expected to reach tens of millions of doses in the coming years” with the hope of a WHO prequalification.  

“The facility also has the capability to meet additional global demand for the vaccine outside of low- and middle-income countries”.  

Using “highly sophisticated instruments” manufacturing processes will be monitored to meet “stringent regulatory standards”. The Executive Chairman of Inventprise, Dr Subhash Kapre, described the inauguration as an “exceptional day”. The CEO, Yves Leurquin, echoed this enthusiasm and added that the “usual development path” of vaccines will be reversed.  

Gates reflected that this “extremely complex challenge” has previously resulted in “vaccines that didn’t produce a strong enough immune response”. He looks forward to clinical trials later in the year.  

We look forward to hearing from a representative of the Gates Foundation at the World Vaccine Congress in October 2022. To join us, click here for tickets.