"In a breakthrough for the fight against meningitis in poor countries, researchers say the WHO has ruled that a key vaccine can be transported or stored for up to four days without refrigeration," Agence France-Presse reports. "Called MenAfriVac and made by the Indian company Serum Institute, the vaccine costs less than 50 cents a dose and, according to the latest research, can be conserved without any refrigeration, even an icepack, at temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) for four days," the news agency writes (11/15). "Epidemics of meningitis A occur every seven to 14 years in Africa's 'meningitis belt,' a band of 26 countries stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, and are particularly devastating to children and young adults," Reuters notes.
"Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) and WHO experts said in 2011 that introducing MenAfriVac in seven highly endemic African countries could save up to $300 million over a decade and prevent a million cases of disease," according to the news agency (Kelland, 11/14). "The decision ... marks a pioneering example of a vaccine authorized for use without the protection of an uninterrupted 'cold chain,' following tests showing that it retained its safety and efficacy" and "paves the way for broader use of such expanded approvals for a wide range of vaccines by other companies ... [that] have invested substantially in the field in recent years, including in emerging nations," the Financial Times writes (Jack, 11/14).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.