WHO authorizes additional cholera vaccine supplies to stop worldwide shortage

In 2015, Haiti and Sudan asked WHO for resources to run pre-emptive vaccination campaigns. | File photo

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently approved an additional producer for the oral cholera vaccine, intending to resolve worldwide shortages of the vaccine by doubling the supply and extending service throughout more areas.

Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal disease, kills people in a matter of hours if they do not receive treatment. Experts estimate there are 1.4 million to 4.3 million cholera cases every year, causing 142,000 deaths.

Currently, the worldwide production of oral cholera vaccines is low, even though there is a rising demand for the vaccine. In 2015, Haiti and Sudan asked WHO for resources to run pre-emptive vaccination campaigns. These requests could not be fulfilled due to the shortage of the vaccines.

This third producer is a business located in South Korea. It is the most recently approved oral cholera vaccine manufacturer.

Adding the new producer will double the oral cholera vaccine supply this year, generating 6 million doses. This manufacturer also has future potential for additional vaccine production. Experts estimate that this will counteract the ongoing cycle of low demand, low production, high price, and inequitable distribution. The goal is to create a cycle involving increased demand, increased production, reduced price, and greater equity of access.

The WHO pre-qualification program, which had to approve the new company, guarantees that the vaccines and drugs for nations and international procurement agencies meet the WHO standards of safety, quality and efficiency.

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