Throughout human history, infectious diseases have been a constant adversary, with local outbreaks and major epidemics occurring intermittently. From the bubonic plague to HIV, healthcare systems have been challenged repeatedly to prepare for – or more often – react to communicable disease threats.
In recent years, pandemics – major outbreaks that spread across several countries or continents – have become increasingly more likely.[i] The modern era permitted some infections to spread with remarkable ease: accelerated globalization and connectivity has facilitated microbial movement from one side of the world to another in just hours. Urbanization, increased human-animal contact, and climate change have also altered conditions that can promote sudden, widespread outbreaks.[ii]
Preparation for these transnational events has never been more important. Pandemic preparedness is a complex and long-term process that involves ongoing surveillance, building well-equipped and resilient healthcare systems and the development and deployment of effective therapeutic and preventative interventions including vaccines.[iii] As the recent experience with SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated, effective pandemic preparedness requires a global, collective effort and cross-sector collaboration in which the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry has an important role to play.
At Medicago, our vision has always been a world prepared to face any infectious challenge. We are committed to building the partnerships to ensure this and have previously worked with Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to produce experimental vaccines and immunotherapies in response to the 2009-2010 H1N1 swine flu pandemic and 2014-2015 Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. The progress healthcare systems have made in the last two years will not be forgotten. Our team will continue to lead the way in developing plant-based vaccines and immunotherapies, and we hope to contribute our knowledge to the fight.
[i] WebMD. 2020. Pandemics. Available at:
[ii] Gavi. 2021. 5 reasons why pandemics like COVID-19 are becoming more likely. Available at:
[iii] WHO/Europe. n.d. Pandemic Preparedness. Available at: https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/communicable-diseases/influenza/pandemic-influenza/pandemic-preparedness [Accessed September 2021].