Oral cholera vaccines to double to 6 million does after UN health agency approves new supplier

Oral cholera vaccines to double to 6 million does after UN health agency approves new supplier

Faced with a global shortage of oral cholera vaccines (OCV), the United Nations health agency announced today that supply should double this year to six million doses, with further increases later, after it approved a third producer to fight a disease that kills up to 142,000 people annually.

Last year, Sudan and Haiti asked the UN World Health Organization (WHO) for supplies to conduct pre-emptive vaccination campaigns, but the requests could not be filled because of the global shortfall.

The new producer, a company in the Republic of Korea, was approved under the WHO’s pre-qualification programme, which ensures that drugs and vaccines bought by countries and international agencies such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) meet acceptable standards of quality, safety and efficacy.

The additional capacity will help reverse 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, WHO said in a news release.

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, with up to 142,000 deaths. Cholera is endemic in over 50 countries, but usually only gains international attention during emergencies, such as the outbreak among refugees in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1994 that killed tens of thousands.

Climate change and the El Niño weather phenomenon that causes droughts or flood in various parts of the world, may also be contributing to more frequent cholera outbreaks…

Read more in un.org