With the rise of global health threats like COVID-19, the development and distribution of vaccines have become a crucial frontline defense. Despite their importance, vaccines are often not the first line of action in a new pandemic due to the time it takes to create, test, and confirm their safety. In these gaps, simpler health measures like wearing masks and social distancing offer some level of protection. But as climate change influences disease spread and international travel continues to grow, respiratory diseases are likely to strike more often and with greater impact. Addressing this, a new proposal for an international pool of pre-developed vaccine candidates, known as InterVax™, emerges as a critical step forward. This idea, supported by worldwide collaboration and shared resources, is aimed at preparing for and rapidly responding to future health crises.

In an unprecedented global health initiative, a team led by Professor Weikuan Gu, along with Lan Yao, Hiam Chemaitelly, Emanuel Goldman, and others, have proposed forming InterVax™, as detailed in their recent publication in eClinicalMedicine. This proposed pool is dedicated to fighting potential highly infectious respiratory diseases and represents a transformative approach to pandemic preparedness, highlighting the urgent need for joint efforts in combating emerging infectious threats.

Professor Weikuan Gu and his colleagues believe that the current speed of developing vaccines is too slow to effectively combat the rapid spread of such diseases. They propose a proactive strategy to create a repository of vaccine candidates ready for rapid deployment in response to new threats.

Professor Weikuan Gu emphasizes, “The mission of international vaccine pool InterVax™ is to build a foundation to accelerate the development of vaccines against potential future respiratory infectious disease pandemic threats so vaccines can be accessible to any people in need.” This highlights InterVax™’s goal to combine resources, knowledge, and technologies from around the world, fostering a collaborative environment for vaccine development.

This initiative will focus on gathering information about known viruses and developing potential vaccines, which will be initially tested for safety using animal models. The aim is to ensure that effective vaccines are available to everyone, particularly in areas most at risk of outbreaks.

A key feature of this proposal is its focus on international cooperation and fairness. Professor Gu further explains, “The international vaccine pool will operate independently, but its collaboration with existing vaccine research and production organizations will be enhanced by potential resources from WHO and CDCs from various countries.” This approach ensures that the benefits of vaccine development are shared globally, addressing the disparities often seen in healthcare access.

By having pre-tested vaccine candidates, the response time in the face of a new pandemic could be drastically shortened, potentially saving many lives. This approach also promises to lessen the economic impact of pandemics, enabling quicker recovery for societies and economies. The establishment of InterVax™ is not just a necessity for science and medicine, but also a moral duty. It represents a commitment to global health security, ensuring that all countries, regardless of their economic status, have access to life-saving vaccines during crises. This initiative could mark a turning point in how the world prepares for and responds to future pandemics, emphasizing unity, readiness, and shared responsibility in protecting global health.


Lan Yao, Hiam Chemaitelly, Emanuel Goldman, et al., “Time to establish an international vaccine candidate pool for potential highly infectious respiratory disease: a community’s view”, eClinicalMedicine, 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2023.102222.


Dr. Gu is an excellent faculty member and researcher. He has rapidly contributed in the research community. Dr. Gu specializes in functional genomics of bone and osteoporosis. His research includes identifying the genes in mice that influence the fragility of the bones of the articular skeleton assessing their influence on bone density in humans and determining the role and genes that are involved in the effect of IGF-I on longevity. Research that is funded is the isolation and sequencing of mutant genes that generate skeletal disease in mice and the identification of the genes that influence the development of spontaneous arthritis in mice. Dr. Gu has numerous peer-reviewed publications and scientific presentations. Dr. Gu has published 150 peer-reviewed publications, ten book chapters, and one book.

Lan Yao, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. She graduated from the Health Outcomes and Policy Research Program at, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 2021. She worked in the College of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Associate, investigating mouse bone density experiment data analysis. She also served in Regional One Hospital as a research assistant working on a project concerning HIV/HPV African American Population. She worked as an Assistant Teaching Professor and Public Health Program Director in Nutrition and Health Science at, the College of Health, Ball State University. Since September 2023, she has been working at the College of Health Management,  Harbin Medical University, China.

She published 14 articles in eClinicalMedicine (Part of Lancet)、Science of Total Environment and BMJ journals, with a cumulative impact factor 80 and most cited article more than 160 times. She completed two research grants. Dr. Yao is the special issue editor for the Journal of Personalized Medicine and Frontiers in Medicine. She is the peer reviewer for Environmental Science and Pollution Research,  Cogent Medicine, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction and Epidemiology and Infection She joined Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine as well as Tennessee Clinical and Translational Science Institute.