1 Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.
An estimated 1.5-2 million new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections occur globally each year. Critical to the World Health Organization's (WHO) HCV elimination strategy is an 80% reduction in incidence of HCV infections by 2030. However, even among high-income countries, few are on target to achieve the WHO's incident infection-reduction goal. A preventative vaccine could have a major impact in achieving incidence-reduction targets globally. However, barriers to HCV vaccine development are significant and include at-risk populations that are often marginalized: viral diversity, limited options for testing HCV vaccines, and an incomplete understanding of protective immune responses. In part because of those factors, testing of only one vaccine strategy has been completed in at-risk individuals as of 2019. Despite challenges, immunity against HCV protects against chronic infection in some repeated HCV exposures and an effective HCV vaccine could prevent transmission regardless of risk factors. Ultimately, prophylactic vaccines will likely be necessary to achieve global HCV elimination.