Experts highlight unity, trust and research in vaccines as pillars against infectious diseases

MSD and 52 other entities join World Immunization Week to remember the importance of cooperation and trust in vaccines.

Immunization prevents 2 to 3 million deaths worldwide each year and is widely recognized as one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. In fact, if global vaccination coverage is improved, another 1.5 million deaths could be prevented.

Especially this year, which has been preceded by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the biopharmaceutical company MSD with the support of 52 entities of various kinds, want to remember with the slogan 'Immunity, without unity there is no immunity' the importance of cooperating to reinforce vaccination programs and achieve high coverage that favors the collective immunity necessary to stop the transmission of viruses and bacteria. It is the fourth year that the biopharmaceutical company MSD joins the World Immunization Week, promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) that took place from April 24 to 30.

“Stopping the spread of infectious diseases is one of the thirteen most urgent challenges identified by WHO to improve global health. Vaccination is the best tool to prevent some infectious diseases and is one of the public health measures that has saved the most lives throughout history. For this reason, we must continue investing in the research and development of effective vaccines against the main pathogens ”, emphasizes Manuel Cotarelo, head of the medical area of ​​Virology and Vaccines at MSD Spain.

“Fortunately, in human health today, there are more than 40 vaccines that contribute to the prevention of 25 preventable diseases. In addition, we have a common calendar that considers the importance of prevention throughout all stages of life. Despite this, we cannot lower our guard if we want to win the battle against infectious diseases and avoid outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics ”, emphasizes Manuel Cotarelo.

“An infected person can transmit disease from almost any part of the planet to any other in less than 36 hours. The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 infection is good proof of this, in addition to the latest epidemic cases registered on the European continent. In short, infectious diseases do not understand borders ”, explains Manuel Cotarelo.

Immunization: responsibility and unity

Vaccines prevent 60 deaths per hour worldwide. They are responsible for training and preparing the body's natural defenses - the immune system - to recognize and fight viruses and bacteria. In this way, when the body is exposed to these pathogens, it is ready to neutralize them and prevent disease.

"Vaccines are also supportive," says Dr. Raúl Ortiz de Lejarazu, professor of Microbiology and scientific advisor of the Valladolid Flu Center. “When a person is vaccinated against a disease, their risk of infection is also reduced, so they are much less likely to pass the virus or bacteria to other people. Therefore, the more people in a community are vaccinated, the greater group immunity will be generated, and the more likely it that an infected person will transmit the pathogen to others will be reduced ”, explains Ortiz de Lejarazu.

“Achieving a collective population immunity is essential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, but also to protect the most vulnerable people who have a weaker immune system such as children, the elderly or people with underlying pathologies and those who for different clinical reasons they cannot be vaccinated,” emphasizes the professor.

Unit and One Health

It is estimated that 60% of diseases are zoonoses, that is, they come from animals. For this reason, it is so important to raise awareness about the immunization of farm animals and pets at an early age also to guarantee the health of people. A correct vaccination schedule for animals early is essential to avoid diseases and be everyone's responsibility. Many diseases can be prevented with a vaccine:

Vaccination of puppies during the first year of life is vital to protect them from rabies or leishmaniasis. A correct vaccination schedule is essential to keep the pet and the rest of the family safe from these diseases, so it is essential to carry out annual revaccination of pets that will help maintain an adequate level of immunization against said diseases. Vaccination is a family responsibility and implies a social commitment.

As for pet and farm rabbits, three viral diseases can affect them: myxomatosis, type I viral hemorrhagic disease and type II viral hemorrhagic disease. To avoid outbreaks of these diseases and improve their well-being, it is possible to immunize them with a single dose, thus ensuring that they are in good health.

Many infectious diseases affect both wild and domestic birds, posing a risk to our country's farms. This is the case of respiratory diseases, salmonella, Gumboro disease, Marek, etc. Fortunately, some vaccines protect against several of these diseases, even with a single injection. In addition, they can be applied in ovo (inside the egg), in the incubator, improving the welfare of the animals.

The health situation that we are experiencing highlights the importance and need for swine vaccination by veterinarians and farmers to prevent zoonotic diseases. Some of the diseases that can cause serious problems for both the population and animals and can be prevented with a vaccine are rotavirus, Leptospira, or Streptococcus suis. Prevention is the natural way to ensure the health of farms. Piglets are born in a very vulnerable state, and due to the ingestion of colostrum in their first days, they acquire immunity by absorbing the antibodies that circulate in them.

In the ruminant sector, prevention is a key factor in minimizing the appearance of diseases on farms, directly impacting the welfare of the animals. Through a complete vaccination protocol, it is possible to protect against the main pathologies that affect animals, both in their clinical and subclinical forms, maximizing the productivity of the farms. In addition, working in prevention has another additional value: reducing the extra time allocated to unscheduled tasks such as emergencies, being able to work in a more organized way on the farms.

Juan Carlos Castillejo, general director of MSD Animal Health for Spain and Portugal, affirms that at MSD, they are especially committed to the One Health concept: "We have always been aware of the link between animals, people, the ecosystem and globalization. Therefore, we want to raise awareness about the importance of immunizing pets and farm animals, addressing human and animal health in an integrated manner from the One Health perspective ”, he explains.

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