The World Health Organization (WHO) has greenlit a simplified version of a widely utilized cholera vaccine, offering hope in addressing a surge in cases that has depleted the global vaccine reservoir and left less affluent nations struggling to contain outbreaks.

Last week, WHO granted authorization for the vaccine, produced by EuBiologics, the same manufacturer responsible for the current formulation. This new iteration, dubbed Euvichol-S, boasts a streamlined composition requiring fewer ingredients, rendering it more cost-effective and expeditiously manufacturable compared to its predecessor.

Late-stage research conducted in Nepal demonstrated the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing the diarrheal disease, prompting WHO’s approval. This decision enables donor agencies like the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and UNICEF to procure the vaccine for distribution in impoverished nations. Leila Pakkala, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division, hailed the approval, anticipating a substantial increase in vaccine supplies by over 25%.

Gavi estimates an allocation of approximately 50 million doses for the global stockpile this year, a significant increase from the 38 million doses supplied last year. Dr. Derrick Sim of Gavi hailed WHO’s endorsement as “a lifeline for vulnerable communities around the world.”

However, the demand for cholera vaccines continues to surpass the available supply. Since January, 14 cholera-affected countries have requested a combined total of 79 million doses. In January, WHO reported the complete depletion of the global vaccine stockpile until the beginning of March, with only 2.3 million doses available as of this week.

Cholera, an acute diarrheal disease caused by contaminated food or water, predominantly afflicts regions with inadequate sanitation and limited access to clean water. While many infected individuals remain asymptomatic, severe cases necessitate prompt treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. If left untreated, cholera can prove fatal, claiming the lives of approximately a quarter to half of those infected.

Since January of the previous year, WHO has documented over 824,000 cholera infections, resulting in 5,900 deaths globally, with the Middle East and Africa reporting the highest caseloads. The U.N. agency attributes the exacerbation of outbreaks and heightened mortality rates to rising temperatures prolonging the survival of cholera bacteria, marking the highest death toll in a decade.


Source: Arise Newspaper


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here