WHO reduces Cholera Vaccines Due To Shortages

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On 19th October 2022, World Health Organization (WHO) suspended the full dose vaccination against the cholera outbreak. It started giving half-dose due to higher demand and a very low supply of vaccines globally.

The UN health agency said there’s a strain on the usage of cholera vaccines, thereby causing insufficiency. The International Coordinating Group (ICG), the body that manages emergency supplies of vaccines, is now using a single-dose method.

According to WHO, this change in strategy will pave the way for the supply of more doses to other parts of the country and the world at large, even at a time of the unusual rise in cholera outbreaks globally. The body also said that since the beginning of the year, 29 countries had reported cholera cases, including Haiti, Malawi, and Syria, which are currently facing large outbreaks. “In comparison, in the previous 5 years, fewer than 20 countries on average reported outbreaks, including 13 countries that did not have outbreaks last year,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added.

Research by WHO shows that the global trend is moving towards more numerous, more widespread, and more severe outbreaks due to floods, droughts, conflict, population movements, and other factors that limit access to clean water and raise the risk of cholera outbreaks.

“The one-dose strategy has really been helpful in response to outbreaks, even though evidence on the exact duration of protection is limited, and protection appears to be much lower in children. With a two-dose strategy, when the second dose is administrated within 6 months of the first, immunity against infection lasts for 3 years. The benefit of supplying one dose still outweighs no doses. Although the temporary interruption of the two-dose strategy will lead to a reduction and shortening of immunity, this decision will allow more people to be vaccinated and provide them protection in the near term, should the global cholera situation continue deteriorating and the current supply of cholera vaccines is still particularly limited,” a statement said.

“The ICG will continue to monitor the global epidemiological trends as well as the status of the cholera vaccine stockpile and will review this decision regularly,” WHO stated.

Tedros said the strategy shift was “clearly less than ideal and rationing must only be a temporary solution. This option is the way to avoid making the difficult choice of sending doses to one country over another.”

Written by: Deborah Oyinloye

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