October 28, 2019 – SEOUL, South Korea – The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has received a $4.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to simplify the current oral cholera vaccine (OCV) and further increase its accessibility.
To date, the Gates Foundation has invested $23 million in IVI’s Cholera Vaccine Program to develop the world’s first low-cost OCV, a safe and effective measure to prevent and control cholera worldwide. With this most recent award, IVI will explore modifications to the existing formula and optimize a single manufacturing process to give higher yields of vaccine and thus increase production capacity while lowering costs.
This reformulation of the OCV is the next chapter in IVI’s going on 20-year cholera vaccine story. With new available data on immune responses to antigens and the geographic distribution of certain cholera strains, IVI has taken the initiative to investigate the efficacy of a simplified formula, inactivated by a single method. IVI will continue to partner with EuBiologics, a Korean biopharmaceutical company and the world’s largest supplier of the low-cost OCV, to pursue the development of this next iteration of an accessible vaccine against the poverty-related disease.
“For a vaccine to be truly effective, it has to first be accessible. The current OCV developed by IVI and technology transferred to manufacturing partners made available a high-quality and easy-to-deliver protection against cholera in developing countries for the first time,” said Dr. Julia Lynch, Deputy Director General of Development & Delivery at IVI, and Program Director of IVI’s Cholera Vaccine Program. “With the new grant, now we can work on expanding that protection to more people at risk of the disease.”
IVI first initiated efforts to develop a safe, effective, and affordable cholera vaccine in the early 2000s, when the life-saving vaccine wasn’t readily available to the populations most at risk of epidemic and endemic cholera. Through partnerships and support from Sweden, Vietnam, India, and South Korea, IVI facilitated development and production of two affordable and WHO-prequalified OCVs, Shanchol and Euvichol / Euvichol-Plus. As of November 2018, over 36 million doses have been deployed from the WHO’s stockpile.
Cholera is an acute, rapidly-dehydrating diarrheal disease transmitted through water or food contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio cholerae O1 and O139. It is a disease of poverty primarily affecting people living in areas with difficult access to clean drinking water, and inadequate hygiene and sanitation*. The incubation period is between 12 h and five days and if not treated properly, a cholera infection can lead to death within hours. Cholera occurs both as endemic disease and in outbreaks, which can include large, explosive epidemics. The global burden of cholera is not fully known because of under-reporting, with some affected countries not reporting cases at all to avoid the stigma often associated with the disease and its economic impact.
* Cholera vaccines: WHO position paper – August 2017. Wkly Epidemiol Rec. 2017; 92(34): p. 477–98.
About the International Vaccine Institute (IVI)
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to discovery, development and delivery of safe, effective and affordable vaccines for global publisc health. Established in 1997 as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program, IVI operates as a nonprofit, independent international organization under a treaty signed by 35 countries and the World Health Organization. The Institute conducts research in more than 30 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America on vaccines against enteric and diarrheal infections, Japanese encephalitis, MERS-CoV, and dengue fever, and develops new and improved vaccines at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. For more information, please visit http://www.ivi.int
Aerie Em, Global Communications & Program Consultant
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