New project launched with the Value of Vaccination Research Network

Last month, the Value of Vaccination Research Network (VoVRN) announced four new research projects on the broader social and economic impact of vaccination. We are now pleased to announce the launch of a fifth project selected for funding through the VoVRN, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:


Stephen Elledge — Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School

Elucidating the extra dividends of vaccination

Vaccines, especially live vaccines, appear to have a strong heterologous capacity to reduce disease due to non-vaccine pathogens. The WHO SAGE warns that although the heterologous benefits of vaccines to reduce off-target infections appear to be important (with extra gains that may exceed even the primary vaccine effects), a lack of biological evidence impedes incorporation of these benefits into formal vaccine assessments. It is hypothesized that observed health benefits emanate from boosted heterologous antibody responses elicited by live vaccination and, in the case of measles vaccine, preservation of immune memory by preventing measles-induced immune deletion. 


This study aims to elucidate the biological underpinnings of improved survival following vaccine introductions by quantifying and mapping the entire antibody repertoire in curated sets of paired clinical serum samples. These samples were collected longitudinally before and after natural measles infections (i.e., measles), or vaccination (with BCG, LAIV, or routine childhood vaccines between 0-18 months of age). By coupling the biology with detailed and robust ecological models of measles and non-measles infectious-disease mortality across populations and over multiple decades spanning the introductions of measles vaccines, the study team will formally quantify the broad benefits of measles vaccination on childhood health, and the long-term labor-market gains accrued from formal inclusion of these benefits in vaccine assessments.