Cholera Vaccine Supply Set to Double, Easing Global Shortage
Globally, OCV production is low, with demands currently exceeding supply. Sudan and Haiti last year made requests to WHO for supplies of vaccines to conduct pre-emptive vaccination campaigns that could not be filled because of the global shortage.
The vaccine producer, a South Korean company, is the latest oral cholera vaccine (OCV) manufacturer to be approved under the WHO’s pre-qualification programme, which ensures that drugs and vaccines bought by countries and international procurement agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) meet acceptable standards of quality, safety and efficacy.
The addition of an additional pre-qualified vaccine producer is expected to double global supply to 6 million doses for 2016, with the potential for further increased production in the future. This additional capacity will contribute to reversing a vicious cycle of low demand, low production, high price and inequitable distribution, to a virtuous cycle of increased demand, increased production, reduced price and greater equity of access.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. There are between 1.4 million and 4.3 million cases a year, and as many as 142 000 deaths. Cholera is endemic in more than 50 countries, but usually only garners international attention during humanitarian emergencies, such as the outbreak among refugees in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1994 that killed tens of thousands. Climate change and El Niño may also be contributing to more frequent cholera outbreaks.
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