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  • EVI

Antimicrobial Resistance: the silent pandemic

The annual World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW) that runs from the 18th to the 24th of November is an important event that highlights the urgency of acting together to tackle the “silent pandemic” of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which takes 700,000 lives every year. During this week, the world virtually unites to bring awareness to the fight against AMR – a deadly threat that can affect any person of any age and respects no borders.

22 November, 2021

AMR is a phenomenon where microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) develop partial or even total immunity to previously effective antimicrobials. Antimicrobial-Resistant Microorganisms cause diseases difficult or impossible to treat, resulting in prolonged illness or even death. This has a profoundly negative impact on individual lives and far-reaching effects on our economy. Over-prescription and misuse/overuse of antimicrobials is driving the acceleration of AMR worldwide.

AMR has become an endemic and widespread problem that affects both high-income countries (HICs) and low- and medium-income countries (LMICs). In the past few years, progress has been made in highlighting AMR as a global health threat, with the “Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Antimicrobial Resistance” representing a milestone in the commitment to fight AMR5.

Vaccines form a firm barrier in the multi-faceted fight against AMR by preventing infectious diseases and thus lowering the amount and frequency of antimicrobial use. In other words, vaccines are used prophylactically, decreasing the number of infectious disease cases, and thus antibiotic use and the emergence and spread of AMR.

European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) actively contributes to the global effort against AMR with several but complementary approaches:

By developing vaccines against diarrheal diseases and malaria

Shigella spp. cause devastating diarrheal diseases, especially affecting children below five years old. Recently Shigella spp. emerged as an AMR pathogen, posing a threat especially in endemic regions as Africa. EVI is supporting the development of two new vaccine candidates against Shigella spp in the frame of ShigOraVax and SHIGETECVAX projects.

Another pathogen that develops AMR is Plasmodium spp – the cause of malaria. For over 20 years, EVI has maintained a large and diverse malaria portfolio including multi-stage vaccines (MMVC project, MVPE-CC project, MIMVaC-Africa project), blood-stage (Semalvac project, Semalvac 2 project, Semalvac4 project, PfRipr5 project), and placental vaccines (VAC4PM project). New and effective vaccines will help prevent the spread of infections in endemic areas like Africa and reduce AMR.

By driving innovative technologies

EVI leads PrIMAVeRa, a project focused on innovative computational technologies aiming to combat AMR. Currently, there are no data-driven tools to predict the health and economic outcomes of vaccination on the reduction of AMR. PrIMAVeRa aims to develop a comprehensive pan-European data repository and an AI-based tool to estimate the impact of vaccination. The outcomes of PrIMAVeRa will empower policymakers to invest in vaccines with the highest impact on the reduction of AMR.

By training a new generation of professionals

Together with other partners, EVI offers training and fellowship opportunities for capacity building in Africa, a continent largely affected by AMR. Training on vaccine development provides essential knowledge and skills to empower a new generation of scientists and other professionals in the fight against AMR.

Tackling a complex issue like AMR requires close collaboration among multiple stakeholders. Today in the context of the World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2021, we invite you to read more about these EVI-coordinated multi-stakeholder initiatives: PrIMAVeRa, ShigOraVax and SHIGETECVAX -that are bringing new vaccines and innovations to joint efforts in the fight against AMR worldwide.

This article was produced in collaboration with Irina Meln & Amanda Wanyana


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