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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs