To date, the world lacks a proper supply of oral cholera vaccines, as more developing countries run vaccination campaigns to prevent more cases of the bacterial disease. But as of recently, the World Health Organization approved a third producer of the vaccine, which could finally provide the world with the needed vaccines.
The newly approved producer, EuBiologics, has its headquarters in South Korea. Before giving its final approval the WHO ensured that the company meets all its safety and quality standards to produce the shots.
According to a WHO report, the new producer could boost the global supply of cholera vaccines to six million units over the course of this year. Additionally, the output may be even higher if there is demand.
The South Korean vaccine maker could finally solve a crisis which has hindered international efforts to contain the disease in recent years. So far, oral cholera vaccines have been expensive and rare as there has been a constant low demand which has discouraged producers from manufacturing more doses.
Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria which usually dwell in water. Its symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and dehydration. If there is no treatment, it can become deadly. Globally, there are up to 4.3 million new cases on an annual basis. Of these cases 142,000 result in death.
About 50 countries of the world are currently affected by cholera, but the disease makes the headlines only when there is a major outbreak which kills thousands of people. WHO experts believe that the disease has higher chances to morph into an outbreak whenever there is an El Niño event or climate change kicks in.
Oral cholera vaccines (OCV) helped some parts of the world contain the disease and even eradicate it when population responded to vaccination campaigns. But because the disease affects communities that do not even know that there is a solution to prevent it, demand for OCVs has been low.
Since 2013, the WHO has campaigned to raise awareness of the existence of vaccines and has prompted risk countries to back mass vaccination campaigns. The initial stockpile of vaccines that the organization planned to use worldwide was 2 million doses, which is enough to immunize 1 million people.
In the meantime, the stockpile rose to 4 million doses which were distributed to nearly a dozen countries that have a high risk of cholera. Access to the vaccines is now easier than a decade ago, since there is an international fund of $115 million which can be spent over half a decade.
Image Source: citifmonline
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