Meningitis A Vaccine Weathers Cold Temperatures

Recent research relates how a meningitis A vaccine can weather temperatures reaching 40º C, usable in environments such as Africa.

From trials in Benin, the vaccine, labeled MenAfriVac, can last for up to four days without being maintained in cold temperatures. Normally the meningitis A vaccine must be stored between temperatures of 2ºC to 8ºC. The trials included over 15,000 doses wherein only four MenAfriVacs were discarded due to overexposure beyond four days.

The “meningitis belt” stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, reports Reuters, can now undergo vaccination campaigns at a much cheaper cost going from $0.24 to $0.12 per person, for which 70% of the population is normally treated. Since its introduction in 2011, 150 million units of MenAfriVac have been distributed to over twelve African nations.

MenAfriVac was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the nonprofit organization Path. Its manufacturing company is the Serum Institute of India.

But the inception of MenAfriVac without the cold chain disregards the requirement for electricity and storage units. This recent development also means that distribution does not have to be centered in urban districts and can be shipped to rural regions.

Moving forward, the development of a cold chain-less system paves the way for the same methods regarding vaccines for yellow fever and cholera. The rise of urban environments in Africa, in conjunction with lack of sanitary water sources, leads to a rise in Aedes aegypti, a breed of mosquitos that when given enclosed water containers produce yellow fever.

West Africa in particular has been most affected by outbreaks of yellow fever. Cholera outbreaks have also appeared from lack of clean water. In 2012, the World Health Organization reports that 48% of cholera outbreaks originated in Africa.

With all hands on deck for further development to combat cholera and yellow fever without the cold chain, it is the hope that greater regions afflicted by such epidemics will not only be distributed in a much cheaper fashion but also help to stymie further outbreaks.

– Miles Abadilla

Sources: All Africa, The Guardian, Reuters, WHO (GHO), WHO (GAR)
Photo: Global Pharma Sector