Vaccines endure African temperatures without damage

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An immunization campaign in West Africa has shown that vaccines can be delivered to remote areas without using ice boxes, and still remain viable. The finding challenges decades-old dogma that vaccines must be kept cool at every step of the chain from manufacture to use.

Julien Potet, a vaccines-policy adviser at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) in Paris, says that the findings set “a very positive precedent”. He recounts how an MSF campaign in Chad in 2010 that vaccinated half a million people against measles required 22,000 ice packs in just 11 days. “If you eliminate the need for icepacks from vaccine carriers in the last stretch of a vaccine’s journey, it would help us reach more kids, much more easily,” he says.

The anti-meningitis campaign, carried out in Benin in December 2012 by the country’s health ministry and researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and PATH, a non-profit body based in Seattle, Washington, tested delivering a vaccine against deadly meningococcal meningitis A that was stored at temperatures of up to 40 °C for up to four days. Its findings, published today in Vaccine1, mark an unequivocal success, with only 9 of the more than 15,000 vials needing to be discarded, none of them for heat damage.

Source: Nature (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
supply chains, vaccines