Monday March 19, 2018

Vaccine Price Drop will Save Millions of Child Lives in World’s Poorest Countries, says UNICEF

The U.N. children’s fund reports 1.5 million children under five die each year from illnesses preventable by vaccines

FILE - Health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria.VOA

Geneva, October 20, 2016: The U.N. Children’s Fund reports a steep drop in the price of a crucial childhood vaccine will prevent millions of deaths in dozens of the world’s poorest countries.

The U.N. children’s fund reports 1.5 million children under five die each year from illnesses preventable by vaccines. Thanks to a breakthrough deal with six pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of a pentavalent vaccine many of these deaths will be averted.

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Director of UNICEF’s supply and procurement headquarters, Shanelle Hall, says it has taken 16 years to bring down the price of the vaccine.

“From next year through 2019, we will be able to procure this pentavalent vaccine, which protects children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza B for less than one dollar a dose, and that is half the price that we pay this year, this month, this week,” she said.

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Hall says that averages out to 84 cents a dose. She says 90 percent of the world’s children under five who die from vaccine-preventable diseases live in countries where vaccines are not fully funded by donors. She says the lower vaccine cost will make a difference between life and death.

“This price decrease will generate a savings of over $366 million for donors and governments who finance the vaccine,” she said. “And, it is important for access and also for pressures on national budgets.”

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The vaccine alliance GAVI funds immunization programs in developing countries. It estimates 5.7 million fewer children will die between 2011 and 2020 in 80 countries that will procure these cheap vaccines.

Hall says by 2020 donors will pay less as national budgets increasingly cover the cost of the pentavalent vaccines themselves. (VOA)

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  • Ruchika Kumari

    Good initiative
    There are still many kids who are not getting proper vaccine due to their poverty….hope this gonna work.

Next Story

Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS