News / Health

Cold-Storage Requirement Dropped for Life-Saving Meningitis Vaccine

Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
x
Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
Women and children wait to participate in a vaccination campaign against meningitis at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Sudan, October 8, 2012.
Jessica Berman
New research has shown that a vaccine against bacterial meningitis, which previously required cold storage to transport across Africa, can be shipped and administered safely for up to four days without refrigeration. Public health experts are calling this a potentially game-changing development for immunization efforts in resource-poor tropical countries.

The fact that the meningitis A vaccine can be removed from the so-called "cold chain" and transported throughout Africa at essentially room temperature means children and young adults who have not been receiving the potentially life-saving vaccine can now get it.

The breakthrough was announced by international public health officials at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Godwin Enwere heads the Meningitis Vaccine Project, a joint collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, or PATH.  

Enwere said the discovery that the vaccine could be in transit for up to four days without refrigeration or even coldpacks came after an extensive re-evaluation of stability data by drug regulators in India and Canada.

Prior to the finding, the drug agencies recommended that the meningitis vaccine be transported at temperatures between two and eight degrees centigrade. The ability to transport it safely at ambient temperatures of up to 40 degrees will allow it to reach tens of thousands of children who need it.

Enwere recalls that during a meningitis outbreak in Chad last year, there wasn’t enough of the drug to go around, and public health officials were only able to immunize youngsters in three districts. That left tens of thousands of children in the rest of the country unprotected.
 
“So, this clearly demonstrates not only the effect of the vaccine; that if a system is developed whereby this vaccine can be carried and administered at ambient temperature, then it will increase the coverage," said Enwere. "If we had had this information as of last year, Chad would have introduced this vaccine to a larger population and then perhaps they would not have had this outbreak.”

Meningitis A is a serious, potentially fatal bacterial infection common in resource-poor counties. It causes inflammation of the protective linings of the brain and spinal cord, sometimes causing the brain to swell, producing severe fever, headache and confusion.
 
The vaccine is known as MenAfriVac. It originally was created to meet the needs of Africa’s so-called meningitis belt, which the WHO estimates includes 400 million people who live across a swath of 21 countries that runs from Senegal to Ethiopia.

While the vaccine costs less than 50 cents per dose and is very effective, the biggest obstacle has been keeping it cool enough in the "cold chain" so it doesn’t spoil during the final kilometers to its intended destination.  

Researchers are now investigating whether other cold-chain vaccines can be shipped at room temperature. In particular, they are studying a vaccine against bacterial pneumonia, a disease that kills an estimated half a million children each year.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More