The right vaccine stories: a panel discussion with Samir Saha

27 November, 2021

Pneumonia, a preventable and treatable disease, kills one child every 2 min.

In the November 2017 issue of the National Geographic Magazine, Cynthia Gorney and William Dianiels painted a vivid picture of why and how vaccines play pivotal roles in our societies. The article revolves around pneumonia, pneumococcus (bacteria that cause pneumonia), and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. It does not cover

the best-known vaccine stories, but the right vaccine stories – Cynthia Gorney

And in the center of the illustration lies Dr Samir Saha and his lifelong dedication to beating pneumonia and other pneumococcal infections in Bangladesh.

Read the article here.

In continuation to this article, the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, National Geographic, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-hosted a panel discussion during the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygeine Conference, 2017, in Baltimore.

Cynthia Gorney (University of California, Berkeley, National Geographic), the writer of the NatGeo article, led a vibrant discussion on different aspects of pneumococcal vaccine and vaccines in general. Like in the article, Dr. Samir (Head of Microbiology Department at the Dhaka Shishu Hospital, Bangladesh and Executive Director of the Child Health Research Foundation, Bangladesh), was the crux of the affair, but right with him were Dr. Cynthia Whitney, (Chief of Respiratory Diseases Branch, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, US Centers for Disease Control) Dr. Keith Klugman (Director for Pneumonia, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, (Nigeria Director, International Vaccine Access Center of Johns Hopkins University) Martha Rebour, (Executive Director, Shot@Life, United Nations Foundation)

There were sparking discussions about the present and the future of pneumococcal vaccines, demonstrating time and again that the most disadvantaged populations at the highest risk of disease still remain the least covered by vaccines – and the reasons vary from lack of data from low-resource populations, lack of notice during vaccine formulations or just low vaccine coverage in remote areas.

The system is upside down. The system designs for return of invest, profit, and in this particular case, the people who need this product the most, are the ones not only who cannot afford it but the ones who suffer individually most dramatically once the infectious diseases hit them–Cynthia Gorney.