The Netherlands has embraced the objective of striving to phase out the regulatory required animal testing. Vaccine batch control involving animal testing is still prescribed for some types of vaccines. In order to phase out these tests, alternative approaches based on in vitro methods are being developed in Europe, while ensuring the consistent safety and efficacy of newly produced vaccines. Part of this research is carried out in the context of the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project VAC2VAC. In cooperation with industry, research institutions and national control authorities, the possibilities for the introduction of in vitro methods have been explored. Since decades, RIVM has been engaged in research for replacing animal testing and is also one of the participants of the VAC2VAC project.
The quality control requirements that vaccine producers in Europe must meet are also set by countries outside of Europe. That is why it is necessary that the added value of European initiatives to replace the use of laboratory animals is also shared with non-European countries. To reach out to Asian countries, the International Alliance for Biological Standardization (IABS) and VAC2VAC, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Humane Society International, organised a Global Congress in Bangkok 3-4 December 2019. The congress focused on the replacement of in vitro testing of vaccines by in vitro methods with the utilisation of new and improved technologies. Progress made with innovative analytical tools and their applications have contributed to the development of fast, precise and highly reliable in vitro tests. Recent case studies on specific vaccines were highlighted, and ongoing as well as future studies on other vaccines were discussed. Bangkok has been selected as the site for this congress because of its location amid countries with emerging vaccine producers and growing needs for vaccines.
RIVM was asked to share experience and lessons learned in replacing animal testing in vaccine control. The outcomes of the congress will be published on the VAC2VAC website.