Last week in Berlin more than 15 countries pledged over US$7.5 billion to buy vaccines for the children of the world's poorest countries for the next five years. While this is great news for the millions of children living in the 73 countries supported by Gavi, there were other big winners: the pharmaceutical companies that benefit from the soaring vaccine prices they charge for vaccines worldwide.
I regularly get the flu shot and I vaccinate my children too. But every so often, I question these decisions, particularly when I come across words that are new to me, like "live attenuated vaccine" or a new vaccine delivery type, such as nasal mist instead of the usual needle. This happened to me this week while deciding whether to get the annual flu shot or not.
Vaccines as we know them are on the way out. On the way in are personalized, precision vaccines, created through a new discipline called vaccinomics that promises to protect a higher proportion of the population at far lower cost and without the real and potential harms that mass vaccination programs inflict on some people. Vaccinomics -- vaccinology informed by genomics -- turns the traditional vaccine model on its head by making the individual the starting point, rather than the end point, in the vaccine creation process. Vaccines work -- or don't -- on the basis of cumulative interactions in our bodies driven by a host of immune response genes and other factors.
We applaud the Government of Canada's continued efforts to push women's and children's health to the forefront of the global agenda, as the high-level Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health opens in Toronto this week. In far too many many parts of the world, women still struggle to access the health services they need, at an often deadly price.
When a parent elects to withhold vaccinations from his or her child without a valid medical reason, it puts my child in harm's way. A recent rash of measles outbreaks across Canada has many anti-vaxxers questioning their decision and opting to keep little Suzy or Johnnie sequestered. In March, we saw over 320 cases in British Columbia. Ontario residents are similarly concerned after several reported cases of measles made the news, putting people at risk all across the region, extending from Hamilton, Waterdown, Burlington and Mississauga.
The debate over the licensing of dubious products by Health Canada heated up over the weekend this week with an article suggesting that Health Canada's continued approval of bogus homeopathic "nosodes" may be adding to the increased incidence of measles in Canada. The details behind these claims are not only true, but way more shocking than we could have expected.