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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs