Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, launches to expand global access to vaccines for children in lower-income countries. Since 2000, Gavi and partners have helped immunize more than 1 billion children and prevent more than 17 million future deaths.
The Global Fund
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launches and quickly becomes the world’s largest funder of programs to combat the three diseases.
Since its inception, the fund has invested more than US$60 billion, helping to save more than 59 million lives.
First human genome mapped
The Human Genome Project begins to revolutionize research into the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.
U.S. President George W. Bush launches the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Since its inception, PEPFAR has helped save more than 25 million lives and enabled more than 5.5 million babies to be born HIV-free.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the world’s first vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV vaccines are effective in preventing up to 90% of cervical cancer cases. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting women globally, with 90% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries, where access to HPV vaccines, screening, and treatment remain limited.
In 2023, results from the KENya Single-dose HPV-vaccine Efficacy (KEN SHE) study are published, showing that a single dose of the HPV vaccine is as effective as a two- or three-dose regimen in preventing HPV infection.
Gavi adds vaccines against rotavirus, the most common cause of diarrheal deaths among children under age 5, to its programs.
In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends rotavirus vaccines for all national vaccination programs, paving the way to greater access in low-income countries, where most rotavirus deaths occur.
Gavi launches an innovative financing mechanism to accelerate the global rollout of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which helps protect against pneumonia, the leading infectious cause of death in children.
In 2019, WHO prequalifies a new PCV developed by Serum Institute of India and PATH, making this lifesaving vaccine more affordable for lower-income countries.
First rapid molecular test for TB
The first rapid molecular test for the detection of tuberculosis (TB) is released after decades of reliance on sputum-smear microscopy. The new test helps diagnose TB more accurately and identify drug resistance earlier.
Truvada PrEP approved
Truvada, a combination therapy designed to provide preexposure prophylaxis for HIV-negative individuals at high risk of infection, is approved by the FDA, ushering in a new era in HIV prevention.
A revolutionary technique for precisely editing DNA opens up entirely new approaches to improving health, from altering mosquitoes’ ability to transmit malaria to possible cures for human genetic diseases.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is launched to accelerate the development of vaccines against epidemic threats and expand access to lifesaving vaccines.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines
In just 10 months, scientists develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA technology. Decades of foundational research into mRNA allowed these vaccines to be produced quickly, and the technology is now being explored for the prevention of many other deadly diseases.
WHO recommends first-ever malaria vaccine
The long-awaited malaria vaccine is a remarkable technical achievement that, alongside other tools, including bed nets, SMC, and indoor residual spraying, could save tens of thousands of young lives each year and inform the development of next-generation vaccines against malaria. The vaccine, called RTS,S/AS01, is also the first vaccine to combat a human parasite.
FDA approval of cabotegravir, an injectable drug for HIV prevention, adds another option to a range of treatments that have reduced deaths from HIV/AIDS and related illnesses by 69% over 20 years, from 2 million in 2004 to 630,000 in 2022.
Dual insecticide-treated bed nets
WHO recommends two new types of bed nets that are treated with two insecticides, to help countries overcome growing mosquito resistance to commonly used insecticides. Evidence from a trial in Tanzania shows that these nets nearly halve cases of malaria compared to pyrethroid-only bed nets.
Health innovations on the horizon
Click an innovation to learn more.
Monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases
Unlike a vaccine, which relies on the body’s ability to mount a strong immune response and requires time to develop a high level of protective antibodies, a monoclonal antibody can provide protection almost immediately after injection and can work even in people with compromised immune systems.
Monoclonal antibodies can be developed quickly and are extremely potent and generally safe. These medicines are the fastest-growing class of drugs and have been used to treat a range of illnesses and diseases, including cancer and autoimmune/inflammatory diseases. They have become better known in recent years as a treatment for mild to moderate COVID-19.
One of the most exciting prospects for monoclonal antibodies is for malaria prevention. In 2022, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial found that a single dose of a certain monoclonal antibody was 88% effective in protecting adults in two rural communities in Mali during a six-month malaria season.
Single-dose HPV vaccine
Ninety percent of cervical cancer deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. The HPV vaccine can prevent most cases, but getting it to girls in those countries can be challenging.
The HPV vaccine is an extremely effective way to prevent most cervical cancer cases. Girls in many wealthy countries have had access to the vaccine since 2006, but low- and middle-income nations have struggled for years to get access. However, a 2022 recommendation from WHO concluded that one dose of the HPV vaccine is as effective as a two or three-dose regimen. A single-dose schedule would make access to the HPV vaccine more equitable by cutting delivery costs and simplifying delivery.
The current TB vaccine is 100 years old, and its effectiveness is limited. New or improved vaccines are urgently needed to confront a major global health challenge.
The current TB vaccine, known as BCG, has been around for a century. It has been proven effective in infants, but researchers are exploring how changes in how the vaccine is used might boost its efficacy. The BCG ReVax clinical trial currently underway is an effort to understand whether revaccination with BCG can extend TB protection in adolescents. In addition, the M72/AS01E vaccine shows significant promise for preventing disease and is expected to enter Phase III trials in 2024.
Studies show that ultrasound devices aided by artificial intelligence (AI) can accurately identify high-risk pregnancies and estimate gestational age, which helps health care workers catch complications early and take action.
A critical step in preventing newborn deaths is early screening of pregnant women to identify those at risk of developing complications. In the United States, this is widely done through routine checkups and scans. But in low- and middle-income countries, access to diagnostic tools such as ultrasound machines and skilled medical technicians can be limited.
We support partners who are developing and testing portable ultrasound machines with diagnostic capabilities aided by AI. Studies show that these devices can accurately identify high-risk pregnancies and estimate gestational age, which helps health care workers catch complications early and take action. They are currently being tested in Kenya and South Africa to determine whether large-scale use can make a measurable difference in outcomes for mothers and babies.
Next-generation diagnostic platforms
COVID-19 was a wakeup call, exposing the limitations of many current diagnostic platforms. Innovations in diagnostic testing, driven by the need to respond to COVID-19, could help provide essential tools in the fight against other diseases.
Diagnostic tools are critical to improving global health. Lessons learned and approaches developed during the COVID-19 pandemic are spurring innovation in the prevention and treatment of other diseases, such as the flu, TB, and HPV. Low-cost, point-of-care molecular testing platforms provide an accessible, sensitive, and portable option for health workers to get rapid, accurate results from patients in the remotest communities.
High-quality, accessible diagnostics are an important line of defense during public health emergencies and play an indispensable role in stopping the spread of disease.
Next-generation contraceptives such as a once-a-month pill, injectable contraceptives that last six months, and discreet microarray patches can empower women and girls to make contraceptive decisions that suit their life circumstances.
Contraceptive options have remained largely unchanged for generations, despite women’s changing needs. To address this inequity, our foundation has committed US$280 million annually from 2021 to 2030 to develop new and improved contraceptive technologies that respond to the preferences of women and girls in low- and middle-income countries and address the barriers that prevent them from using contraceptives, including cost and access. Next-generation contraceptives such as a once-a-month pill, injectable contraceptives that last six months, and discreet microarray patches can empower women and girls to make contraceptive decisions that suit their life circumstances.
mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases
During the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines saved millions of lives, bringing the promise of mRNA technology into the spotlight. Now the world has an opportunity to apply recent innovations in vaccine technology to address major inequities in global health.
The use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic proved how effective the technology could be in saving lives. Now researchers are exploring how to deliver on the promise of mRNA by bringing it to the fight against diseases that continue to kill people around the world, including HIV, TB, malaria, and the flu. With simpler research and manufacturing processes than for traditional vaccines, mRNA technology can help more countries and regions gain access to high-quality vaccines that meet the needs of their people.
Low-cost, ready-to-use microbiome-directed foods have the potential to help children gain weight and prevent malnutrition relapse. We fund research into the biology of nutrition and nutritional needs across the lifespan, especially for mothers and babies. This includes investigating specific bacterial strains and subspecies in the gut and developing targeted interventions that address inflammation and support better health outcomes. Functional foods such as garbanzo beans can also help improve gut and microbiome health as well as tackle malnutrition.
nOPV2 for poliovirus
Greater availability and wider use of the next-generation polio vaccine, nOPV2, will mean that the goal of protecting all children from polio is within reach.
Almost 1 billion doses of the novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2) have been administered globally since rollout began in 2021, protecting children against illness and paralysis. nOPV2 is as effective, safe, and easy to use as other oral polio vaccines and is much more genetically stable, making it a vital tool for helping to sustainably stop polio outbreaks. Plans are underway to increase production capacity dramatically over the next two years. Greater availability and wider use will mean that the goal of protecting all children from polio is within reach.
New forms of HIV prevention
Injectables like CAB-LA have the potential to address some of the unique risks of HIV infection faced by young women and teen girls.
HIV is still a huge problem in many communities, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where millions of people cannot access antiretroviral therapy or preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.
Injectables being researched, such as long-acting PrEP (CAB-LA) and lenacapavir, hold the potential to increase uptake through easier and less frequent administration.
Along with funding the development of new innovations like CAB-LA, we are committed to supporting a comprehensive strategy to ensure that long-term injectables to prevent HIV are available and affordable to everyone around the world.