The United Nations health agency on Friday announced that the supply of oral cholera vaccines (OCV) would double, to address the global shortage and to expand accessibility in more countries. The agency approved a third producer to fight the disease that kills about 142,000 annually.
A South Korean company was approved under the agency’s pre-qualification programme. The programme assures that the drugs and vaccines brought by countries and procurement agencies such as UNICEF met the optimal standards of safety, quality and efficacy. The additional supply will help in lowering the price, greater access, increase the demand and production.
“Access to OCV has been further improved by a commitment of US$115 million over five years from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,” stated the UN health agency.
Cholera affects about 1.4 million and 4.3 million cases a year, with more than 142,000 deaths. The deadly disease leads to acute diarrhea, and can kill a person within hours if left untreated. The disease is endemic in several countries, but gains attention only during severe outbreaks in countries such as Goma and Democratic Republic of Congo, that killed thousands of people in 1994. Frequent cholera outbreaks may also be caused due to the El Niño weather phenomenon that causes flood in various parts of the world.
OCVs has been used in mass campaigns and emergencies since 1997. As the disease commonly affects the poor communities they are unaware of the vaccine, creating low demand. WHO created the world’s first OCV stockpile to buy and use medicines to create demand.
The creation of the stockpile led to the usage and distribution of the vaccine than in the last 15 years. The organization mentioned that the new producer for the vaccine highlighted the success of an international joint effort through public-private partnership, non-profit organizations, manufacturers, donors and other research organizations.[ Source ]