July 9, 2010
Innovative Product Development Partnership Generates Meningococcal Meningitis Conjugate Vaccine
The Sabin Vaccine Institute applauds the Meningitis Vaccine Project (a partnership between the World Health Organization and PATH) and the Serum Institute of India who announced last week that a new meningococcal A conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac™, has been approved by the WHO and will be manufactured later this year at a remarkably low-cost of $0.40 per dose.
Meningococcal meningitis, a preventable infection which is often disabling and potentially fatal, disproportionately occurs in a wide swath of Africa known as the meningitis belt —from Senegal and the Gambia in the East to Ethiopia in the West—where 430 million people are at risk of infection.
Recent studies have suggested that the meningitis belt is extending further south and that the period between epidemics is decreasing underscoring the importance and timeliness of the MenAfriVac™ vaccine. A study commissioned by the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts (PACE), a project of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, last year found a high rate of mortality and sequelae from bacterial meningitis, which may be reduced with the introduction of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
An essential component of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s mission is the development of vaccines to combat neglected tropical diseases. For ten years, Sabin Vaccine Development—an international product development partnership (PDP)—has engaged in research and development of vaccines against human hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, and most recently, malaria.
We are encouraged by the Meningitis Vaccine Project’s successful development of the MenAfriVac™ vaccine through an innovative product development partnership model and the promise it offers to so many who are needlessly suffering. In collaboration with our partners, we hope to emulate similar successes in the future through the development of affordable vaccines with endemic population needs in mind. We congratulate all involved in this successful initiative which will contribute enormously to improving the health of populations living in the meningitis belt.