Inflammation and stories on vaccines

Vaccinations in Yemen
Situated in the Middle East, the Republic of Yemen is the second-largest sovereign state in the Arabian peninsula. Being in the clutches of a civil war since 2015, Yemen stands in the second-lowest position for life expectancy in the Middle East with an average life expectancy of 65.31 years. Research has shown that the civil war also had a significant impact on the immunization or vaccination efforts to protect the children of the nation from curable diseases like cholera and measles. Here are five facts about vaccination in Yemen.

5 Facts About Vaccination in Yemen

  1. Cholera Outbreak: Experts consider Yemen’s cholera outbreak, which started in 2016, to be the largest epidemic to ever occur in recorded epidemic history. As of 2018, Yemen reported 1.2 million cases of cholera, and 58 percent of the resulting deaths were of children. The ongoing civil war and the fact that only half the country’s population has access to clean water and sanitation has made it increasingly challenging to tackle the spread of the disease effectively. Organizations like WHO and UNICEF have made severe efforts in distributing Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV), funding to supply clean water to the citizens and establishing health centers to combat the outbreak. Several randomized trials showed the efficacy of the distributed OCVs to be nearly 76 percent.
  2. Vaccination Rate: Even though vaccines have a proven rate of efficacy, the immense pressure that health care in Yemen experienced suddenly due to large outbreaks decreased the effectiveness with which it could mobilize its immunization efforts. According to the official country estimates of 2018, 80 percent of Yemen’s population received DTP3 vaccination coverage. However, Yemen did not distribute Oral Cholera Vaccines widely until 16 months after the cholera outbreak. This led to a rapid spread of cholera in the nation.
  3. Vaccine Storage Facilities: Many often overlook a country’s vaccine storage capacity. Yemen’s lack of proper facilities and shortage of electricity made it difficult to safely store the vaccines. UNICEF and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia worked together to provide solar refrigerators to several health care centers to facilitate safer and more reliable vaccinations in Yemen. Health care workers say that solar refrigerators enable them to store the vaccines for one month. This reduces material waste and optimizes vaccine distribution.
  4. Impact of War: The ongoing civil war has put Yemen in a vulnerable position when it comes to the re-emergence of preventable disease outbreaks. Research has shown that countries with conflicts are more susceptible to disease outbreaks. However, these are easily preventable with vaccines. In Yemen, airstrikes destroyed many hospital centers, which made health care more inaccessible to its citizens. The civil war disrupted the stable vaccination rate in Yemen, which was at 70 to 80 percent, falling to 54 percent in 2015 at the time that the war broke out.
  5. Humanitarian Efforts of International Organizations:  In war-torn countries with feeble financial stability, humanitarian efforts play a significant role in disease control. The World Health Organization (WHO) contributed 414 health facilities and 406 mobile health teams to combat the cholera outbreak and facilitate vaccination in Yemen. Meanwhile, UNICEF made substantial efforts to provide safe drinking water to 1 million residents of Yemen. It also contributed medical equipment to remote parts of the country with the help of local leaders.

Yemen has clearly faced challenges in vaccinating its citizens in recent years due to civil war and conflict. Hopefully, with continued aid from UNICEF, the WHO and other countries like Saudi Arabia, vaccination in Yemen will improve.

– Reshma Beesetty
Photo: Flickr

Measles in Bulgaria
Though the increased distribution of vaccines has nearly eradicated measles around the world, countries have recently seen returning outbreaks. Bulgaria’s outbreak is one of the worst. However, the nation is working to control the measles outbreak with the help of vaccinations and strict government procedures. Here are the top 7 facts about measles in Bulgaria.

7 Facts About Measles in Bulgaria

  1. Between 2009 and 2011, Bulgaria faced a sizable measles outbreak after not reporting any cases since 2001. This outbreak was the largest in Bulgaria since 1992. All regions in Bulgaria were affected and a total of 24,364 cases were reported during this time.
  2. The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Bulgarian National Programme for the Elimination of Measles and Congenital Rubella Infection managed the outbreak well. Both teams contacted physicians who reached out to families and educated them on the importance of timely vaccinations. These teams also advised the hospitalization of patients with measles to avoid spreading the disease to the community.
  3. Following the outbreak, the MoH distributed information about measles prevention to the national media. MoH also distributed educational materials on measles to all Bulgarians. These efforts made families in remote areas aware of the vaccinations their children should receive.
  4. Bulgaria’s measles vaccine was introduced in 1969, and the second dose was introduced in 1983. Between 2003 and 2008, more than 94 percent of the Bulgarian population had received the first dose, and more than 89 percent had received the second. Following the 2009 outbreak, health officials distributed the vaccine to those aged 13 months to 20 years who had not yet received the two doses. It also became available to those over the age of 30 who were in need of it.
  5. Children that have parents with low education levels have less access to vaccinations. This was found by a study performed by the European Journal of Public Health. Although Bulgaria has consistent access to measles vaccinations, the education level of parents appears to have an impact on vaccination access. In a survey of 206 Bulgarians from the region of Burgas, the mean number of years of education mothers completed was 5.20, while fathers on average completed 7.02. 40.8 percent of children surveyed had no measles vaccination, 45.1 percent received a single dose and only 12.1 percent received a second dose.
  6. Along with other standard, up-to-date vaccinations, measles vaccines are required by the CDC for all travelers visiting Bulgaria. This measure is to protect not only the traveler but also vulnerable Bulgarians. It also helps ensure that measles does not make its way to other countries.
  7. Bulgarians are required to notify health officials if they have measles. The Regional Inspection for Prevention and Control of Public Health (RIPCPH) and the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) are then notified. The sooner individuals report cases, the sooner national health organizations can prevent outbreaks. Health officials also proactively study the demographics of measles patients to figure out where the disease came from and other risk factors.

Though Bulgaria’s recent measles outbreaks are distressing, the country has worked hard to protect as many people as possible. Additional efforts are aimed towards preparedness for the possibility of future outbreaks of measles in Bulgaria. With an increase in vaccines and a focus on the disease by medical professionals, Bulgaria will be able to keep measles under control.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pexels

Hepatitis in GreeceThough hepatitis is a prevalent virus in countries throughout the world, Greece, in particular, has been facing difficulties preventing its spread. Recent economic struggles have negatively impacted the Greek health care system, leading to a lack of vaccinations. However, Greece is slowly but surely resolving the issues their healthcare system has faced, working hard to eliminate hepatitis. Here are seven facts about hepatitis in Greece.

7 Facts About Hepatitis in Greece

  1. In 2008, the vaccine for hepatitis A (HAV) became free to all children. Hepatitis A affects the liver and can be found in contaminated food and water. Between 1998 and 2006, the reported cases of HAV were highest among children up to the age of 14. Rates of infection have decreased, however, since the vaccine was made free. It has become essential in preventing cases of HAV, and instances of the virus will continue to slow over time.
  2. HAV vaccines are recommended for travelers visiting Greece. This is not just to prevent the traveler from getting HAV, but also to prevent asymptomatic patients of HAV from spreading it to others, as symptoms may not develop for 15-50 days after exposure.
  3. Immigrants are a high-risk group for hepatitis. Albania is a country with one of the highest rates of hepatitis B (HBV) in the world, and 65 percent of immigrants in Greece are from Albania. Though immigration may be a source of HBV in Greece, it is important to note that hepatitis B is preventable by vaccines, and combinations of antivirals have been proven to treat HBV in recent years.
  4. In recent years, Greece has gained access to studies of groups considered “high-risk,” to HBV. These high-risk groups include HIV positive patients, prisoners, refugees, pregnant women, and drug users. By studying high-risk groups and HBV patients within them, Greece has been able to gain more accurate data on the exact number of cases within the country, as well as preventative methods.
  5. Public-oriented programs targeting hepatitis control are working. The Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB) has a very active presence in Greece and has assisted the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP) in expanding its strategy from just addressing HIV/AIDS to addressing viral hepatitis as well. These programs work to educate Grecians on hepatitis, make vaccines more accessible to vulnerable communities and study existing cases of acute and chronic hepatitis.
  6. The most common risk factors for developing hepatitis C (HCV) in Greece are easily prevented. They include perinatal transmission and sexual transmission. However, the risk of transmitting HCV through medical procedures has significantly decreased. Sterilization and an increase in single-use syringes in hospitals have led to this.
  7. Many infected individuals are asymptomatic. After Greece’s National Public Health Organisation (NPHO) discovered that 75,000 of 300,000 carriers of hepatitis B or C were not aware that they were infected, the National Action Plan began requiring that Grecians born between 1945 and 1980 must be checked for hepatitis antibodies, in order to identify adults that have HCV but are asymptomatic. The goal is to eliminate HCV by 2030.

Although hepatitis is a virus found worldwide, Greece has faced its fair share of struggles grappling with it. Many at-risk are part of the most vulnerable populations in Greece: immigrants, people struggling in poverty, individuals who already have medical conditions, and those lacking access to medical care and education. However, treatments and vaccinations are always advancing. With improvements in the country’s economy and healthcare system, cases of hepatitis in Greece will continue to dwindle.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Flickr

Health conditions in Brazil
Over the years, the Brazilian government has improved the provision of health care for citizens. However, challenges have persisted in terms of the quality of care provided. In response, the government and other NGOs have taken various steps to improve health conditions in Brazil. These steps include reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations.

Reaching the Favelas

Reaching urban slums, or “favelas,” is crucial to improving health conditions. These areas are stricken with poverty and the people experience harsh living conditions. Poor health often accompanies these conditions, heavily impacting the people in favelas.

The struggles those individuals face are not new to the Brazilian government or NGOs. One NGO working to improve health conditions in Brazil, specifically among the people living in the favelas, is the Brazilian Institute for Innovations in Social Healthcare, also known as Ibiss. Initiated in 1989, Ibiss now operates 62 projects with 600 employees. One project is leprosy-awareness because many leprosy cases are concentrated within the favelas.

Ibiss has increased awareness and care by helping favela residents to organize self-treatment programs. This is significant because the course of treatment is lengthy so many of the people with leprosy stop treatment, especially in favelas.

Affordability of HIV/AIDS treatment

Brazil provides one of the best programs to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world, which has helped to improve health conditions in the nation. One way that HIV/AIDS treatment affordability has improved is through the implementation of legislation increasing access to universal antiretroviral treatments for citizens. Additional legislation has allowed Brazilian companies to produce a generic version of antiretroviral drugs to reduce high associated costs.

Statistics from 2018 show these legislative measures are improving health conditions in Brazil, specifically in HIV/AIDS patients. 66 percent of people in Brazil who had HIV and were receiving treatment.

Vaccines

In contrast, vaccine coverage in Brazil has been declining. Coverage for the first dose of measles/mumps/rubella has declined in two regions in Brazil since 2016. In Northeastern Brazil, coverage dropped from 55.8 percent to 41.9 percent. Further, in Northern Brazil, coverage dropped from 58.9 percent to 44.9 percent.

Vaccination must occur to improve health conditions in Brazil. Thankfully, the Brazilian government recently responded to an outbreak of measles in 2019 by doubling the purchase of MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccinations from the previous year. The government purchased 60.2 million MMR vaccines.

Brazil also recently launched a massive campaign to deliver yellow fever vaccinations. The government implemented these vaccines in 77 municipalities within the states of São Paulo, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. These particular municipalities were targeted because of the increased risk of an outbreak. As a result of this campaign, 53.6 percent of people were covered in São Paulo, 55.6 percent Rio de Janeiro and 55.0 percent in Bahia.

 

Despite the poor health conditions, efforts to improve health conditions in Brazil are being implemented. From new government legislation to NGO programs, improvements have been made in reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations. Moving forward, the development of a robust health system will continue to have a positive impact on the nation.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam
Brunei Darussalam is a small, Southeast Asian country nestled in the Indonesian Archipelago. Currently, the average life expectancy is about 76 years, which is roughly four years higher than the U.N.’s estimated global average of about 72.6 years. While certain factors like an individual’s personal habits and existing health conditions can factor into life expectancy, socioeconomic status drives this number on a larger level. With this in mind, here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam

  1. The life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam has been steadily increasing. Since the 1950s, life expectancy was a mere 50 years old, whereas it is now 75.93 years. Women on average tend to live to 77 years old, while men live to be about 74.
  2. The infant mortality rate is worsening. As of 2018, there were about 9.8 deaths in infants for every 1,000 live births before they reached 1 year old. This number has been creeping up, since it was 7.7 per 1,000 in 2005, due to the high amount of babies being born underweight and the persistence of deficient red blood cells in women and young children.
  3. According to the U.N.’s Human Development Report, Brunei Darussalam is ‘very high in human development.’ It ranked Brunei Darussalam 39th among the world’s powers – tied with Saudi Arabia. Its Human Development Index ranking went up one from 2016, when it ranked 40, still falling within the ‘very high’ ranking in human development. Life expectancy is a component that the U.N. uses to measure a nation’s development index.
  4. The population has been increasing since 1955. While the rate of this increase is lessening, the percentage of the population that has urbanized has been increasing, with the urbanization percentage rising to 79.5 percent from its 34.6 percent in 1955. Urbanization largely occurs with an increased life expectancy, more employment opportunities and physical development within a nation.
  5. Most of the population over the age of 15 has employment. More men have employment than women at 70.6 percent, with the percentage of employed women sitting at 51.5 percent. This is an increase from 1991 when only 44.5 percent of women had work. Studies show that those in the labor force tend to live longer than those who are not.
  6. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death. As of 2007 and holding true to 2017, coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Brunei, with it also being the leading cause of premature deaths.  In a study that determined the leading cause of death and disability combined, coronary heart disease ranked second.
  7. The rate of adult literacy in Brunei is 95.3 percent. In 2009, Brunei launched a new education program, which would give the populace a free six years of primary school and four or five years of secondary school, with the option for the pursuit of higher education or vocational school available. Literacy and life expectancy link together through socioeconomic factors, with those who are literate likely living in more favorable socioeconomic circumstances, which ultimately leads to a higher life expectancy.
  8. Brunei has an immunization coverage of 97.8 percent. This exceeds The World Health Organization’s target, which is 95 percent. Immunization is a major contributor to the increased global average life expectancy, as it protects people from diseases that were often fatal prior to vaccines.
  9. Brunei boasts good air quality. According to a real-time map index, the various checkpoints throughout Brunei (Kuala Belait, Pekan Tutong, Brunei Muara and Temburong) have consistently been reporting satisfactory air quality that poses little to no threat, the healthiest setting on the scale. This is comparable to the surrounding checkpoints in Malaysia, which indicate that people who are particularly sensitive to air pollution might be at risk.
  10. Brunei has a reliable infrastructure. Brunei’s population pays no income or sales taxes. Those in Brunei also enjoy low crime rates, free public schooling up through secondary education, free health care and subsidized housing, all of which contribute to a higher life expectancy.

The overall life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam, as well as components that contribute to a higher life expectancy, are doing well within the standards of the developed world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam provide more information on several issues in the country.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Under Skin Vaccination
Bioengineering researchers at M.I.T. have developed a method to store and maintain immunization records for people in developing countries, primarily children, who have little or no access to paper records. The M.I.T. researchers have applied an invisible dye technology to detect patterns of quantum dots; one can place this dye under the skin during vaccinations. Once administered, a computer similar to a smartphone interprets the near-infrared marks to access medical records. If further improved, this technology could save lives by helping to maintain an accurate medical history for vulnerable populations. Here are 10 facts about under skin vaccination.

10 Facts About Under Skin Vaccination

  1. Immunization records can be challenging to maintain in developing countries. Keeping track of a child’s vaccination history, for example, may rely on an underserved hospital or community to maintain paper files. People can lose such files in areas of poverty and political discontentment or they can suffer damage, thereby erasing the child’s medical history. Further, parents may forget their child’s medical history, and especially as the result of no centralized database for record-keeping. Under skin vaccination is a promising initiative to reduce these issues.
  2. Verifying immunization history is a cumbersome process. For example, in 2015, the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia invited Dr. Wilbur Chen of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland to verify immunity coverage for children in rural areas. The process involves taking blood samples and testing immunization in labs, a lengthy and expensive process. Dr. Chen and his team found a big difference in the reported versus actual vaccination rates. Researchers, such as Dr. Chen, find under skin vaccination methods an innovative way to reduce this consumptive process.
  3. Record-keeping problems contribute to 1.5 million vaccine-preventable deaths per year. According to global health experts, the majority of these deaths come from developing countries where resources for maintaining records are lacking. Holes in medical record-keeping may constitute an incorrect vaccine type, brand or lot number for vaccine recipients. A lack of accurate training for maintaining complete records may lend to the problem, depending on the country.
  4. Researchers at M.I.T. are developing trials of a new record-keeping solution by embedding records under the skin. So far the trials have successfully embedded records on pig, rat and cadaver skin. The purpose of the study was to decentralize medical records since centralized databases only exist in wealthier, developed nations that have resources to maintain records. One of the bioengineers, Ana Jaklenec, admits that she was inspired by Star Trek’s “tricorder” device that scans a body for its vital signs and medical history, eliminating the need for maintaining medical records.
  5. New research combines vaccines with an invisible dye that administers concurrently. The invisible dye is naked to the eye but one could interpret it easily with a cell-phone filter that detects near-infrared light to see the coded marks. It is likely the dye is visible for up to 5 years, a crucial period of time for vaccinating children. During this period of time, children typically receive immunizations in several doses, such as in measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Medical professionals could pair typical vaccines with the invisible dye to incorporate decentralized records.
  6. The new dye in the vaccines includes nanocrystals. Researchers call these nanocrystals quantum dots, which can project near-infrared light for detection by specialized phone technology. The quantum dots are copper-based, measuring four nanometers in diameter and encapsulated in spherical microparticles of 20-micron diameters. The encapsulations permit the dye to remain under the patient’s skin after they receive an injection.
  7. Instead of traditional syringes, the new vaccination type that scientists developed uses microneedles. Medical professionals can administer both the vaccine and the patterned die easier by using a patch that resembles a band-aid to on the skin. In addition to improvement in record-tracking, the new delivery method would not require a skilled medical professional or expensive storage costs. The dye patterns can also be customizable in order to correspond to the vaccine type, brand or lot number.
  8. Jaklenec and her M.I.T. colleagues found no difference compared to traditional injection methods. The team tested the microneedle patch method on lab rats with a polio vaccine. The team found no difference in antibodies when it compared it to traditional syringe methods of vaccine administration. Compared to the scar that smallpox vaccines caused (now eradicated worldwide) the microneedle-patch method leaves no visible trace.
  9. The invisible dye vaccine can create a discreet record-keeping method for families. According to bioengineer Mark Prausnitz of Georgia Institute of Technology, the invisible “tattoo” would provide patient confidentiality in the absence of adequate record-keeping and medical information while also providing improved record accessibility. The microneedle-patch method also avoids more controversial recognition technology such as iris scans.
  10. The M.I.T. team is working towards a feasible international immunization method, specifically aimed at poorer countries. For future applications of under skin vaccination development, the M.I.T. researchers are surveying health care providers in African countries to assess the best way of implementing this method of immunization tracking. They are also working to increase the amount of data they can store in the embedded code with information such as administration date and lot number of the vaccine batch.

These 10 facts about under skin vaccination development illustrate advancements in record-keeping. Utilizing these technologies, developing countries would have advanced strategies for tracking immunizations, ultimately increasing vaccination efficacy. This new method could potentially reduce the number of unnecessary deaths due to lost or forgotten medical information with a noninvasive, safe technology during critical years of childhood development. It could also be the start of a new system of storing data through biosensing that could significantly improve health care like that seen in futuristic science fiction.

Caleb Cummings
Photo: Flickr

 

New Ebola and Malaria Vaccines
In December 2019, the Gavi Board, an organization that improves the accessibility of immunizations to vulnerable children, approved a new program that will allocate new Ebola vaccines. A new funding initiative will invest about $178 million by 2025 for a new program to develop the vaccines. The decision is monumental in leading global health emergency stockpiles, which will grow to 500,000 doses.

Ebola’s Effect on Poverty

A study in December 2014 in Liberia indicated that the infectious disease hits poorer neighborhoods most. People in poverty are 3.5 times more likely to contract the disease than those in wealthier areas. Due to the dense population and lack of sanitation and health care facilities, the people in these communities are more susceptible to the virus. Ebola first appeared on an epidemic level in West Africa in 2014. While it existed prior to that, those cases were more contained. Crowded urban areas resulted in higher transference, further developing the outbreak.

Malaria Vaccines

In addition to the Ebola vaccine, Gavi approved continued steps in curating an implementation program for new malaria vaccines. The routine distribution of these vaccines will reduce child death significantly. Malaria is the primary cause of death of children under 5-years-old, with a reported 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths in 2018 alone. Malaria is also one of the top four causes of poverty, according to the United Nations. Its lack of affordable measures has strained many African economies, costing an estimated $30 billion a year. Many people cannot afford efficient medication and 20 percent often die due to poorly distributed drugs.

Countries affected by poverty and low income will have access to these vaccination campaigns free of charge, which will help boost economies. Countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have continually experienced rash Ebola outbreaks, with the latest one being in August 2018. Since then, the DRC has grappled with over 2,200 lives lost and 3,421 more reported cases in January 2020. In July 2019, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency that called for international concern.

The US Fights Against Ebola

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will also participate in close efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in the DRC. The FDA granted programs in order to advance the development of new drugs that will lead to the prevention of tropical diseases. People primarily contract Ebola through direct contact with bodily fluids, blood and infected wild animals or people. Limiting these factors is difficult, but with proper medication and programs, along with the investments in sanitation and health care facilities, outbreaks will significantly reduce. These types of decisions are paramount in shifting the United States’ focus to a more global standpoint in regards to large-scale poverty.

The development of Ebola and malaria vaccination pilots is essential to the sustainability of areas affected by extreme poverty. Preventable measures will reduce the risk of contracting infectious diseases among these low-income communities. These comprehensive overviews will scale back the rate of Ebola outbreaks in African regions, which will also cut back on excessive government spending. Vaccination programs will help prevent 24 million people from facing extreme poverty by 2030. People could prevent a quarter of deaths that the outbreaks caused through simple vaccination, which makes these programs all the more noteworthy. The Gavi Board and the FDA’s efforts in launching new malaria and Ebola vaccines will contribute to the positive impact.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Vaccine Temperature Monitoring
Vaccines are a great way to help save lives and protect people against diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines prevent roughly 2-3 million deaths a year, although the exact number is difficult to calculate. As vaccines become more available to the public, the eradication process of diseases begins to increase. For example, in 1977, vaccines eradicated smallpox. Vaccine temperature monitoring helps this trend keep going.

How Temperature Affects Vaccines

Medical professionals must handle vaccines properly in order to maintain their effectiveness against a virus and preserve their shelf life. The vials need to remain in a controlled temperature environment to avoid activation and lose their potency levels. Vaccines will no longer be viable and become ineffective in the protection against viruses if they experience certain temperatures. According to UNICEF, back in 2011, there was an estimate of around $1.5 million worth of vaccines that people had to discard due to temperature breaches. The storage temperature varies between 35°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C), all depending on the type of vaccine and its activation setpoint. If the vaccines experience extreme temperatures, their potency reduces, which ultimately makes them inefficient for protecting individuals against deadly diseases or contagious viruses.

In countries like Africa and Asia, there are countless organizations that are in high demand for vaccines to protect their citizens from diseases. They depend on their vaccines to be active in order to be able to use them in men, women and children. These people are fighting against polio, malaria, Hepatitis B and cervical cancer to name a few. Although the demand for vaccines is very high, people are discarding about 50 percent of the vaccine supply due to exposure to heat because of the lack of power and equipment in foreign countries. This is why investing in ways to protect vaccine vials with temperature monitoring devices is so important for clinics and hospitals that are administering the vaccines to the public. By protecting the vaccines with temperature monitors, providers will be able to control the vials that are on hand and detect which vials they should administer first and which they should discard because of heat exposure.

TempTime Corporation

One of the leaders in the creation of vaccine temperature monitors is TempTime Corporation. TempTime has innovated sensors known as Vaccine Vial Monitors (VVM) that can detect the exposure of heat and cold temperatures as well as the time length of the exposure. The company has several types of monitors such as HEATmarkers, FREEZEmarkers and blood temperature indicators. These VVMs are able to detect if each vaccine vial has had exposure to extreme heat or freezing conditions for extended periods of time. Once the center square has reached its optimal color, the vial is no longer effective in protecting recipients from the virus and should be discarded.

The benefit of this innovation is that it provides administrators like nurses and doctors with peace of mind knowing that their product is still useful for adults and children, protecting them from many diseases. The CDC has estimated that it loses about $20 million worth of product per year due to improper storage. Health professionals must discard vaccines because of heat exposure, and if the vaccines experience heat during transportation, this could cost the organizations and companies thousands of dollars in products that they could have used to treat and prevent diseases. TempTime is continually improving ways of effectiveness for its products to promote global health by creating products that will also test the temperatures during the transportation process like digital devices that read the precise temperature of the monitors or VVMs that can last up to 250 days in monitoring temperatures.

The WHO has acknowledged that VVMs are beneficial to organizations like UNICEF and health care professionals in identifying vaccines that temperatures have compromised. One could deem the ability to detect if a vaccine experienced freezing temperatures as crucial because one could experience a burning sensation when they receive this vaccine. In this situation, institutions could lose patients and receive bad reputations by people sharing their experiences with others. Ultimately, this careless act could harm business as well as causing people to not receive the proper care they deserve, which is why vaccine temperature monitoring is so important.

– Paola Quezada
Photo: Flickr

Pakistan and the New Typhoid VaccineTyphoid is a disease caused by Salmonella Typhi that spreads through contaminated food and water, disproportionately affecting children. There were nearly 11 million typhoid cases and more than 116,000 deaths worldwide. In Pakistan, children younger than 15 years old made up 70 percent of deaths from typhoid in 2017. Treatment with antibiotics is essential in controlling and preventing the spread. Further, vaccination helps to protect people from contracting typhoid disease.

There are several ways of preventing and treating typhoid. Preventative measures include improved sanitation, hygiene and water supply. Additionally, treatments include the use of effective antibiotics and vaccines. However, with the rising drug-resistant typhoid outbreak, the antibiotics have become ineffective.

Pakistan and the New Typhoid Vaccine

Pakistan is facing an extensively drug-resistant typhoid outbreak. However, the opportunity arose to revamp its vaccine strategy. This strategy now includes a typhoid conjugate vaccine as part of the routine immunization program. Pakistan in the first country to pilot the new typhoid conjugate vaccine. It hopes that the vaccine will be a breakthrough in the face of drug-resistant antibiotics.

The country’s drug-resistant outbreak “has infected more than 10,000 people.” This is the first-ever reported outbreak to be resistant to the drug ceftriaxone and to all but one oral antibiotic for typhoid. These challenges make the disease costly to treat. However, the new vaccine has been proven successful and safe to use as part of the outbreak response since April 2019. This vaccine establishes Pakistan as the first country in the world to introduce a vaccine set to protect 10 million children within its first two weeks.

The Importance of the Vaccine in Pakistan

Historically, Pakistan makes up one of three countries bearing the burden of the high prevalence of typhoid, along with Bangladesh and India. Typhoid is often referred to as a disease of the poor. It has been neglected by many organizations in terms of investment in vaccines. Dr. Samir Saha, Executive Director of the Child Health Research Foundation at Dhaka Shishu Hospital, states, “vaccination is not the end of the story…we need to continue surveillance to measure the impact of TCV introduction on typhoid burden and the improvement of the overall health system.”

The World Health Organization has recommended and approved this new vaccine. Additionally, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) will provide the vaccine to Pakistan at no cost. The government of Pakistan is launching the vaccine introduction with the central focus and campaign beginning in Sindh Province. This location is the center of an ongoing drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid outbreak that began in November 2016. The vaccine’s improved characteristics include a stronger immune response, a longer duration of protection and usability in infants as young as 6 months.

Pakistan’s Health Authorities have reported a notable ongoing outbreak of the drug-resistant strain. Further, the resistant strains of Salmonella Typhi pose a public health concern for the country’s population. However, with the funding support from GAVI, the new typhoid vaccine introduction will initiate a two-week vaccination campaign. Once the campaign ends, Pakistan will routinize the immunization of infants. The government announced plans to introduce the vaccine in neighboring areas of Pakistan next year and then nationally in 2021.

Na’Keevia Brown
Photo: Flickr

The Battle Against Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that animals transfer it to humans. Infected animals, usually small rodents, transmit the disease through bodily fluids. Sometimes, however, the disease can transmit through human-to-human contact via bodily fluids, but this is less common. Symptoms include body aches and pains, and fever as well as a bumpy, localized rash. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, a related infection that people have eradicated worldwide. Yet the battle against monkeypox continues. According to the World Health Organization, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw over 5,000 monkeypox cases in 2019, including 103 fatalities. In addition, most deaths occurred among younger age groups.

History

People first discovered the virus in 1958 when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys that they used for research, hence the name. The first human cases were in the DRC in 1970. The disease mainly impacts the country’s rural areas and rainforests, where many consider it endemic. In 2017, Nigeria also experienced one of the worst monkeypox epidemics following 40 years of no confirmed cases in the country.

While the virus has largely concentrated in Africa, there have been documentations of cases of monkeypox outside of Africa in recent years. Usually, these cases involved people who visited Africa and returned home harboring the infection. In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa occurred in the United States. In the past two years, there have been cases in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Treatment

Monkeypox and smallpox share many similarities and both have classifications under the genus orthopoxvirus. Currently, a recommended treatment for monkeypox entails the use of antibiotics and there has been an 85 percent success rate using the smallpox vaccine. A new third-generation vaccine received approval in 2019 for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox while scientists continue to develop additional antiviral agents.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an NGO established in 1971, has been on the frontlines battling monkeypox. MSF, which translates to Doctors Without Borders, provides medical assistance to people affected by outbreaks, epidemics and disasters. In October 2018, an emergency team dispatched to a village in the Central African Republic after a monkeypox outbreak there infected about a dozen children. The group set up a quarantine, treating the children while administering vaccinations to others.

World Response

A number of world health organizations have come together in the battle against monkeypox. After the 2017 Nigeria outbreak, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control sought to unite West Africa’s response to the disease. The NCDC also teamed up with organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to better observe and document the disease.

Monkeypox prevention includes raising awareness, avoiding potentially infected animals and practicing good hygiene. Several countries have also put forth restrictions on animal trade to stop the spread of the disease across Africa and to other parts of the world. These steps, as well as additional preventative measures and research, will be key to the battle against monkeypox and the prevention of future outbreaks.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr