The present and future of yellow fever vaccines

Clairissa A. Hansen, Alan D.T. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The disease yellow fever (YF) is prevented by a live-attenuated vaccine, termed 17D, which has been in use since the 1930s. One dose of the vaccine is thought to give lifelong (35+ years) protective immunity, and neutralizing antibodies are the correlate of protection. Despite being a vaccine-preventable disease, YF remains a major public health burden, causing an estimated 109,000 severe infections and 51,000 deaths annually. There are issues of supply and demand for the vaccine, and outbreaks in 2016 and 2018 resulted in fractional dosing of the vaccine to meet demand. The World Health Organization (WHO) has established the “Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics” (EYE) initiative to reduce the burden of YF over the next 10 years. As with most vaccines, the WHO has recommendations to assure the quality, safety, and efficacy of the YF vaccine. These require the use of live 17D vaccine only produced in embryonated chicken eggs, and safety evaluated in non-human primates only. Thus, any second-generation vaccines would require modification of WHO recommendations if they were to be used in endemic countries. There are multiple second-generation YF vaccine candidates in various stages of development that must be shown to be non-inferior to the current 17D vaccine in terms of safety and immunogenicity to progress through clinical trials to potential licensing. The historic 17D vaccine continues to shape the global vaccine landscape in its use in the generation of multiple licensed recombinant chimeric live vaccines and vaccine candidates, in which its structural protein genes are replaced with those of other viruses, such as dengue and Japanese encephalitis. There is no doubt that the YF 17D live-attenuated vaccine will continue to play a role in the development of new vaccines for YF, as well as potentially for many other pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number891
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Chimeric vaccines
  • Live-attenuated vaccines
  • RNA viruses
  • Vaccine
  • Vaccine manufacturing
  • Vaccine platforms
  • Viral re-emergence
  • Yellow fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'The present and future of yellow fever vaccines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this