Scientists have found a new way of handling the Meningitis A vaccine that could reduce the cost of administering the dose by a half.
Researchers in Benin found that immunising people with Meningitis ‘A’ vaccine (MenAfriVac) stored in controlled temperature chains of up to 40 degrees Celsius was as effective as using the same vaccine under refrigerated conditions of between two to eight degrees Celsius, as has been the practice.
The scientists said that the finding was a breakthrough for not only the MenAfriVac vaccine but also for potentially increasing the efficiency, coverage and affordability of other life-saving vaccine.
“This will be especially useful in remote and hard-to-reach areas where keeping vaccine cold is difficult,” they stated.
A separate WHO study which looked at the economic benefits of this approach found that the costs of administering the MenAfriVac vaccine without keeping it cold could drop by 50 per cent.
“Findings from these new studies show that it is possible to deliver vaccine more conveniently and at a lower cost when refrigeration is not needed every step of the way,” said Dr David C. Kaslow, vice president of product development at PATH.
WHO says more than 20 million children worldwide are not vaccinated and thus remain at risk of being infected by preventable diseases such as pneumonia, polio or whooping cough.
“Finding solutions to reducing the cost and logistical challenges of reaching people living in remote areas would remove a major constraint to achieving universal coverage of vaccine beyond MenAfriVac,” said Michel Zaffran, coordinator of WHO’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation.