Shortage of cholera vaccines forces administration of a single dose

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The shortage of vaccines against cholera forces the administration of a single dose

< p class="styled__StyledLegend-sc-v64krj-0 cfqhYM">Patients with cholera-like symptoms wait at a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Port-au-Prince on October 7, 2022.

The shortage of cholera vaccines is forcing health authorities to administer only one dose – instead of the recommended two – at a time when the number of outbreaks of the disease is surging worldwide. previous.

This change in strategy will make it possible to provide doses to more countries, explains the World Health Organization (WHO), which participates in the International Coordination Group (ICG) with Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross and the ;UNICEF, responsible for the emergency distributions of these vaccines.

As of January, 29 countries have reported cases of cholera, including Haiti, Malawi and Syria, which are facing large outbreaks.

A very exceptional situation, the WHO recalling that in the previous five years, less than 20 countries on average reported outbreaks.

Cholera is usually contracted from contaminated food or water and causes diarrhea and vomiting.

Cholera is extremely dangerous and can kill in a day, warned WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recalling that access to water Drinking water and sanitation are essential to prevent and control its transmission.

The Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Organization believes that cholera epidemics are increasing in number, scope and severity due to floods, droughts, but also conflicts, population movements or other factors that limit access to potable water.

She says the single-dose strategy has been shown to be effective in the past in fighting outbreaks, although it's unclear how long it protects.

Although the temporary interruption of the two-dose strategy results in reduced and shortened immunity, this decision will allow more people to be vaccinated and their provide short-term protection should the global cholera situation continue to deteriorate, the Organization insists.

The current supply of cholera vaccines is extremely limited.

Of the total 36 million doses expected to be produced in 2022, 24 million have already been shipped for preventive (17%) and reactive (83%) campaigns and 8 million additional doses have been approved by the ICG for the second cycle of emergency vaccination in 4 countries, points out the WHO in its press release.

“As vaccine manufacturers are producing at their maximum current capacity, there is no short term solution to increase production. »

— World Health Organization

The decision by an Indian manufacturer of cholera vaccines, a subsidiary of France's Sanofi, to stop production of the end of the year added to the concern.

But, explains a Sanofi spokesperson, the current shortage is due to an upsurge in cases and not a halt in vaccine production by Sanofi, since we are currently continuing to deliver doses of the Shanchol vaccine.

The group recalls having announced its decision to stop production in 2020 because of the low number of doses produced and the fact that other players had then announced an increase in their production capacities. It also signed a skills transfer agreement to facilitate the arrival of new vaccine producers.

For Doctors Without Borders (MSF), switching to a dose is a last resort decision that avoids making the impossible choice to send doses in one country rather than another, underlines Dr. Daniela Garone, international medical coordinator of the NGO in a press release.

Single dose vaccination will provide shorter protection, but it's the fair and just way to try to protect as many people as possible, while we are facing simultaneous cholera outbreaks, she said.

But, she insists, this solution is only temporary and the current supply shortage is a serious concern for any short to medium term response needed for new cholera outbreaks this year.

With information from Agence France-Presse

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