Indian-Made Vaccine Approved to Fight Meningitis in Africa

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A vaccine against meningitis prepared by an Indian company has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), paving the way for its use to eradicate the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

The MenAfriVac vaccine was developed by the Indian company, Serum Institute of India Limited (SIIL), under a project of the global non-profit health organisation PATH and the WHO.

“Developing the MenAfriVac vaccine fits exactly (with) Serum’s ingrained philosophy of bringing down prices of vaccines so that under-privileged children of the world are protected,” said the Pune- based SIIL’s chief executive, Cyrus Poonawalla.

SIIL was contracted by the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) to produce the vaccine, which has finally been approved by the WHO for routine immunisation of infants in sub-Saharan Africa, and has been described by MVP officials as “an innovative and affordable vaccine that has all but rid the meningitis belt (in sub-Saharan Africa) of a major cause of deadly epidemics”.

“Initial mass vaccination campaigns with MenAfriVac have been highly effective in reducing the number of meningitis A cases,” said the director of MVP, Marie-Pierre Preziosi.

“But epidemics will return when rising numbers of unprotected newborns become a larger proportion of the total population, over time. Now, with this decision, health officials will be able to ensure that population-wide protection is sustained by routinely immunizing infants,” Preziosi added.

Source: The Economic Times (link opens in a new window)

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