Professor Cal MacLennan and Professor Adam Cunningham
Professor Adam Cunningham (right) with Professor Cal MacLennan.

Professor Adam Cunningham, Co-Director of the BactiVac Network, was one of a number of experts recently asked to externally review a briefing document issued by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) that describes the potential for immunisation as a strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). 

AMR is an urgent global health threat that, if left unchecked, could account for an estimated 10 million deaths per year by 2050. The O’Neill report, 'Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: final report and recommendations', commissioned by the UK Government and published in 2016, concluded that vaccines have been overlooked as a tool to reduce AMR and should be an investment focus.

The briefing document issued by POST suggests that immunisation can reduce the AMR burden by preventing infections (including resistant ones) and therefore reducing antibiotic use, a major driver of resistance. This effect has already been seen for vaccines against pneumococcal and influenza infections.

Decisions about choices for national immunisation programmes vary between countries due to vaccine availability and affordability, disease risk, vaccine efficacy and different frameworks for advice.

The BactiVac Network, which is supported by the GCRF Networks in Vaccines Research and Development (co-funded by the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), has the aim of accelerating the development of bacterial vaccines that are of relevance to low to middle income countries. It also covers UK health priorities following further investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

POST is an impartial and independent research service in Parliament that publishes concise briefings for MPs and Peers on a range of topics in science and technology.