Prevention is the Best Treatment: Vaccines and Antimicrobial Resistance

Dr. Leonard Friedland calls antimicrobial resistance “the silent pandemic,” and says vaccines are how we prevent it.

As pathogens develop resistance to antibiotics and other therapies, we must turn to new solutions—or, as Leonard Friedland, MD, puts it, old solutions: vaccines. “The best treatment of a disease is to actually not have to treat it at all but to prevent it, and that’s the role of vaccines. Vaccines are, after clean water, the most effective public health tool that’s ever been introduced,” Friedland said.

Leonard Friedland, MD, is the Vice President of Scientific Affairs and Public Health Vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Last week, Friedland gave a presentation entitled, “Vaccines as an essential tool in the fight against AMR” at the 2021 World Anti-Microbial Resistance Congress.

Friedland said both he and GSK are passionate about the development of vaccine to fulfill unmet medical need, describing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as “a global health security problem” and “the silent pandemic.”

Friedland expressed concerns that if antimicrobial resistance continues, the practice of medicine will be under threat: “If we don’t have ways to treat infections, we won’t be able to do many of the things that are part of modern medicine, such as organ transplants, safe Cesarian section deliveries, the ability to treat common infections.”

Vaccines save lives, but Friedland says they are underappreciated. To ensure they remain at the forefront of preventative healthcare, Friedland follows the development of vaccines at GSK and beyond, encouraging the extension of bacterial and viral vaccines to drive down the use of antibiotics.

Friedland stressed that low- and middle-income countries will be most affected by continued AMR. “We all recognize through the COVID pandemic now how important it is to address access to care, equitably, for people all around the world…as we address this issue we need to make sure we’re thinking globally, not just locally.”