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European Biopharmaceutical Review

The Value of Vaccines

Lyme disease is the fastest growing and most feared tick-borne illness in the Northern Hemisphere, and the most common tickborne disease in Europe (1). With over 300,000 cases reported annually in the US, and another 200,000 in Europe, Lyme disease already presents a sizable healthcare burden (2). Lyme disease cases in the US have tripled since the late 1990s; its rapidly expanding disease footprint shows how challenging a problem this illness has become (1). Lyme disease is one of a number of emerging infectious diseases that pose a significant risk to people around the world. Even though some infectious conditions have approved therapies that can treat or cure their effects, these diseases still present a major health concern.

Vaccination is the most effective method of prevention against infectious disease and greatly helps to reduce its global burden. In many cases, vaccination is the only solution that can make an impact on the spread of an infectious disease. Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide and present a huge, unmet medical need in the global community. In 2016, infectious diseases caused 9% of deaths worldwide (3). To stop this growing threat, safe and effective prevention methods must be developed.

The Case for a Lyme Disease Vaccine

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Critical to the cycle of this disease are mammal intermediaries, such as mice and deer. Ticks spend most of their time feeding on these common Northern Hemisphere mammals, and they, in part, contribute to the challenge of controlling the spread of the disease. These animals act as reservoirs for the Borrelia bacteria and are often the source of new ticks becoming carriers when feeding early in their lives. As populations of mice and deer grow and spread throughout Lyme endemic areas, so do the number of cases of Lyme disease in humans. To control the spread of Lyme disease in humans, it might also be necessary to find a way to prevent latent reservoirs of Borrelia from persisting in mice and deer.

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Thomas Lingelbach is the Chief Executive Officer at Valneva following the Intercell- Vivalis merger. He served as Chief Operating Officer at Intercell until 2011, when he was appointed as CEO. Prior to Intercell, Thomas served as Managing Director, Germany at Novartis Vaccine & Diagnostics, focussing on the integration with Chiron Vaccine, where he served as Vice President of Global Industrial Operations and Managing Director of Chiron-Behring. He holds a Master’s degree in engineering and complemented his education with a business administration programme.
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