Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Thinking Ahead: Prototype Vaccines

Panel Discussion by the Immunology & Inflammation Initiative (I&I) within the World Health Summit

Chaired by MDC Scientist Michela Di Virgilio

Vaccines are the major cornerstone to control pandemics. This has been demonstrated in the past for instance by the eradication of poxvirus or the global control of poliomyelitis. Given the long history of vaccines, established pipelines for their development and production have been developed. The still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has enriched this pipeline and although SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have been developed and approved within less than a year, this major achievement built on decades of basic research. Equally important was the massive financial support, accelerated administrative procedures and rapid increase in production capacity. Yet, important challenges remain such as the global distribution of vaccines and insufficient vaccination rates in countries where these vaccines are available.

Another challenge is to increase our preparedness for possible future pandemics. How can we deal with future pandemics more effectively and could we even contain initial outbreaks? One approach might be the development of prototype vaccines, but how efficient can these be? Can we exploit our experience from the Covid-19 pandemic and develop novel vaccine platforms allowing even faster vaccine development and clinical approval? Obviously, the investment into such vaccine approaches and required infrastructure will be associated with high costs. In this session, we want to discuss the ongoing work in this exciting area, learn about its feasibility and understand its potential impact on global health care.

This online event is free of charge. Registration is not required.
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Panel Discussion:


Michela Di Virgilio

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine | Group Leader | Helmholtz Association initiative Immunology & Inflammation | Co-Speaker | Germany

Ralf Bartenschlager

German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) | Department of Molecular Virology | Head of Department | Germany



Florian Klein

University of Cologne | Institute of Virology | Director | Germany

Rino Rappuoli

GlaxoSmithKline | Chief Scientist and Head External R&D | Italy

Robin Shattock

Imperial College London | Department of Infectious Diseases | Director of the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub | United Kingdom

Nancy Sullivan

National Institutes of Health | NIAID | Vaccine Research Center | Senior Investigator & Chief of Biodefense Research Section | United States of America

Annelies Wilder-Smith

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) | Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases and WHO Consultant COVID-19 Vaccines | United Kingdom


World Health Summit (WHS)
Immunology & Inflammation (I&I) Initiative
Michela Di Virgilio from Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)
Ralf Bartenschlager from CoViPa

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