In December 2021, with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Health Research Center at Duke Kunshan University established the Innovation Lab for Vaccine Delivery Research (VaxLab). Led by Professor Shenglan Tang, VaxLab aims to strengthen the national immunization program and improve people’s health by producing high-quality scientiﬁc evidence and conducting policy advocacy activities. To comprehensively strengthen the immunization program in China, the VaxLab has identiﬁed four key research areas, including developing relevant strategies to strengthen the national immunization program, improving vaccine delivery eﬃciency and coverage, enhancing vaccine fundraising and services, and advocating for the inclusion of key vaccines recommended by the WHO in the national immunization program.
Since its inception, VaxLab has established close cooperative relationships with domestic centers for disease control and prevention, think tanks, academia, and institutions. Major partners include the Development Research Center of the State Council, China National Health Development Research Center, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Peking University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Sichuan University, and others.
With the strong support of the sponsors and partners, VaxLab plans to further expand the content and scope of its research. In the next two years, VaxLab will work on exploring collaboration with partners in ASEAN and other Asian countries, along with deepening exchanges and discussions with partners, policymakers, and academics about vaccine delivery, communication promotion, and exchange on the project’s platform.
The project’s teams have cooperated on multiple parts of the vaccine delivery research and have achieved major milestones. VaxLab regularly produces high-quality policy briefings on the project’s WeChat Official Account (vaxlab_dku) to share important research findings with policymakers and the academic community. Partnered with experts from the Development Research Center of the State Council, VaxLab has published three high-quality policy briefings in 2022, entitled Strategic Thinking on Strengthening China’s National Immunization Program, Improving HPV Vaccine Access to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in China, and Increasing Uptake of Key Non-National Immunization Program Vaccines in China.
VaxLab has published several peer-reviewed articles in top international and national academic journals, including The Lancet Public Health, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, China Public Health, Modern Preventive Medicine, and China Health Economics.
In addition, VaxLab regularly invites national and international experts to hold technical workshops, and actively conducts quarterly exchange meetings to facilitate networking and share current research findings. The first workshop in November 2022 focused on vaccine procurement and financing. Furthermore, the Clinton Health Access Initiatives were invited to share their insights on PCV introduction in Indonesia. The second workshop was held in January 2023 with the theme “Reducing Vaccine Hesitancy and Increasing Vaccine Uptake.” Professor Lavanya Vasudevan of Emory University was invited to share and discuss with the internal team the key challenges and interventions for addressing global vaccine hesitancy. On a virtual social landscape, VaxLab has created a website to build a vibrant online vaccine delivery research community.
The Innovation Lab for Vaccine Delivery Research (VaxLab) regularly invites experts and scholars from China and abroad to write targeted policy briefings on topics related to vaccine delivery research for the promotion of policy advocacy and strengthening China’s national immunization program.
The first policy briefing issue Strategic Thinking on Strengthening China’s National Immunization Program discussed the achievements, challenges, and optimization strategies of China’s current national immunization program from a national strategic perspective. This issue, a collaboration between Researcher Yanfeng Ge, Researcher Jiahui Zhang, and Associate Researcher Shenglan Liu of the Development Research Center of the State Council and Professor Shenglan Tang of Duke University and Duke Kunshan University, received an enthusiastic response upon its publication.
The second issue Improving HPV Vaccine Access to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in China discusses the current barriers to increasing HPV vaccination rates and offers recommendations for future development. The second issue was co-authored by Duanduan Yuan, senior medical and health columnist, Shu Chen, senior consultant of Duke University and deputy director of the VaxLab, Jiahui Zhang, Researcher of the Development Research Center of the State Council, and Youlin Qiao, Professor at the School of Population Medicine and Public Health at Peking Union Medical College. In the report, People’s Daily Health highlighted the current situation and challenges of HPV vaccine prevalence in China and provided suggestions to increase HPV vaccination rates among women.
The third issue Increasing Uptake of Key Non-National Immunization Program Vaccines in China presents the status of vaccination rates for vaccines not included in the national immunization program in China. It also analyzes the reasons for low vaccine uptake from the supply-side and demand-side perspectives and makes strategic recommendations to improve vaccination rates in this regard. This issue was co-authored by Shu Chen, senior consultant of Duke University and deputy director of the VaxLab, Mingzhu Jiang, Ph.D. student from Fudan University School of Public Health, Shenglan Tang, Professor at Duke University and Duke Kunshan University, and Xiaohua Ying, Professor at the Fudan University School of Public Health.