April 23, 2024

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Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Depleted: 16 Countries in Crisis

Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Depleted: 16 Countries in Crisis

Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Depleted: 16 Countries in Crisis

In a stark announcement, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has raised an alarm: the global stores of cholera vaccine have been entirely used up.

This development comes at a time when 16 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean are wrestling with cholera outbreaks.

The scarcity of vaccine doses poses a significant threat to public health, particularly in regions where cholera remains a deadly threat.

Cholera, caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, spreads swiftly through contaminated water and food, leading to severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Without timely intervention, it can be fatal. Access to vaccines plays a crucial role in preventing and managing outbreaks.

Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Depleted: 16 Countries in Crisis

Here are the key points:

Unprecedented Shortage:

Health experts are deeply worried about the unprecedented shortage of cholera vaccine. The recent surge in outbreaks across developing countries has worsened the situation. Between December 23 and January 23 alone, at least 50,500 people fell ill with cholera, resulting in nearly 500 deaths.

Neglected Disease:

Cholera is often labeled a “neglected disease” as it disproportionately affects the poorest communities, making it unattractive for pharmaceutical companies. Out of the three vaccines qualified for use by the World Health Organization (WHO), only one is currently being produced. This lack of interest has left vulnerable populations without adequate protection.

Global Stockpile Depleted:

The global stockpile of cholera vaccine, established in 2013 and managed by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, should ideally contain 5 million doses ready for rapid deployment. However, the reality is stark. Currently, only one manufacturer, EuBiologics, produces doses of its vaccine, Euvichol-Plus.

Previously, Shantha Biotechnics, an Indian subsidiary of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, significantly contributed to the stockpile. Unfortunately, they ceased production of their cholera vaccine, Shanchol, in 2022, leaving a critical gap.

Modified Administration Protocol:

To extend limited supplies, the ICG has adjusted the administration protocol for Euvichol-Plus. Instead of the recommended two doses, they are now administering a single dose. While this compromises the vaccine’s effectiveness, it remains the only option. The duration of protection is uncertain, but it is essential to mitigate the impact of outbreaks.

Climate Change and Vulnerability:

As climate change intensifies, weather patterns linked to flooding and outbreaks become more frequent. Without sufficient vaccine supplies, medical personnel on the ground struggle to contain the disease during humanitarian crises.

Dr. Daniela Garrone, the international medical coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières, emphasizes the urgency: “The world’s oral cholera vaccine stocks have dried up. This is a worrisome situation as 16 countries worldwide are reporting cholera outbreaks.”

The global health community must unite to address this crisis. Urgent action is needed to replenish vaccine stocks, protect vulnerable populations, and prevent further loss of life. Collaboration among manufacturers, governments, and international organizations is crucial as the world faces this critical challenge.

Cholera Vaccine Stockpile Depleted: 16 Countries in Crisis

(source:internet, reference only)

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