June 23, 2011

WHO Prequalification is a "Crucial Step" to Getting Vaccine to Those Who Need it Most

In a major advancement towards universal access for typhoid vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted prequalification for Typhim Vi®, a typhoid Vi polysaccharide vaccine produced by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi.

This is the first typhoid vaccine to be prequalified by the WHO, allowing UNICEF, other UN agencies and the Pan American Health Organization Revolving Fund to procure the vaccine. WHO prequalification is also a prerequisite for GAVI Alliance support.

With at least 200,000 deaths occurring worldwide from typhoid fever each year, and a further 16-33 million people falling ill, use of typhoid vaccines can contribute to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

“The use of WHO prequalified typhoid vaccines in appropriate populations of high burden countries is a priority for South Asia, where much of the disease burden is in children under 5,” said Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Head of the Maternal and Child Health Division at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.

The burden of typhoid fever is highest among children living in poverty. In populations where the basic rights of access to safe water and basic sanitation have yet to be addressed, the use of typhoid vaccines can help reduce this gap in equity and social justice.

Dr. Shyam Raj Upreti, Director of the Child Health Division of the Department of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal, said, “WHO prequalification of a typhoid vaccine will accelerate the availability of this vaccine for children in Nepal and throughout Asia, where the burden of typhoid fever is highest.”

Typhoid vaccines have been given an “immediate” implementation priority by a WHO South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) Vaccine Prioritization Workshop. The use of typhoid vaccines in high risk groups is recommended by the WHO. Typhoid vaccines are also prioritized but not yet funded by the GAVI Alliance.

“Vaccines are the best hope for preventing deaths and illness from typhoid fever,” said Christopher Nelson, PhD MPH, Director of the Coalition Against Typhoid Secretariat at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Now, suppliers, international agencies, funders, and local governments must assure that these vaccines reach the children who need them most.”

About typhoid fever:
Typhoid fever is a serious bacterial infection caused by the enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi). S. Typhi is spread through water or food contaminated with human waste. Although largely an endemic disease, S. Typhi has epidemic potential. Symptoms usually develop 1–3 weeks after exposure, and may be mild or severe. They include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhoea, rose-coloured spots on the chest, and enlarged spleen and liver. Severe typhoid cases can result in intestinal perforation and death. Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antibiotics is widespread. Without appropriate antibiotic therapy, typhoid case fatality rates can reach 30%. The widespread and increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant typhoid increases the urgency for vaccine introduction. A healthy carrier state may follow acute illness. Healthy carriers should be excluded from handling food. For more information please visit http://www.who.int/topics/typhoid_fever/

About WHO prequalified vaccines:
http://www.who.int/immunization_standards/vaccine_quality/PQ_vaccine_list_en/en/index.html

About GAVI Alliance New and Underused Vaccines Support:
http://www.gavialliance.org/support/index.php

About the United Nations Millennium Development Goals:
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

About Typhim Vi®:
http://www.who.int/immunization_standards/vaccine_quality/pq_238_typhoid...

About Sanofi Pasteur:
http://www.sanofipasteur.com/sanofi-pasteur2/front/index.jsp?siteCode=SP...


About the Coalition Against Typhoid:
The Coalition Against Typhoid is a global forum of scientists and immunization experts that works to save lives and reduce suffering by advancing typhoid vaccination in endemic countries. The Coalition, whose secretariat is housed at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, fosters collaboration at the global, regional, and national levels to expand access to safe, effective, and affordable typhoid vaccines and deliver life-saving protection to children at risk. For more information please visit http://www.sabin.org/advocacy-education/coalition-against-typhoid

About Sabin Vaccine Institute
Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world’s most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat, and eliminate vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines, and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information, please visit www.sabin.org.

Contact: Richard Hatzfeld, +1-202-294-4637, Richard.hatzfeld@sabin.org

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