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Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective public health interventions and the foundation of a well-functioning health system. The Office of International Health and Biodefense (IHB) supports the development and implementation of effective international frameworks to develop, produce, and distribute vaccines and therapeutics. IHB engages foreign governments to enhance their commitments to control, eliminate, or eradicate vaccine-preventable and treatable diseases like polio, tuberculosis, measles, and cholera. The office also engages the private sector to understand and address industry concerns with frameworks and regulations governing medical countermeasure production. IHB encourages international research and development initiatives to produce innovative vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments that make disease control easier and more affordable even in the most remote settings.

Vaccine initiatives have had remarkable successes. In 1980, smallpox became the first human disease eradicated through a collaborative, global vaccination program. Since 1988, there has been a 99% reduction in wild polio cases worldwide, saving $27 billion in health-care costs. IHB engages international actors to support polio’s complete eradication and to develop new, affordable vaccines and therapeutics for other infectious diseases.

Influenza poses one of the greatest public health threats to the United States. Every year, influenza infects 9.2-48.8 million people in the United States leading to 12,000-79,400 deaths and an economic cost of $11.2 billion. The influenza virus mutates frequently, and a pandemic strain of influenza would dramatically increase deaths and economic costs. IHB works to secure the international cooperation necessary to develop, produce, and distribute influenza vaccine and to enhance country capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to influenza outbreaks at their source.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future