GENEVA: The World Health Organization and partners are recommending that countries temporarily switch to using a single dose of cholera vaccine instead of two due to a supply shortage as outbreaks of waterborne diseases are increasing worldwide.
In a statement on Wednesday, the UN agency and its partners, including UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said one dose of the vaccine has been shown to be effective. to stop epidemics “although the evidence on the exact duration of protection is limited” and seems weaker in children.
WHO and partner agencies maintain a stock of cholera vaccines which are distributed free of charge to countries in need.
“This last resort decision is a way to avoid making the impossible choice of sending doses to one country over another,” said Dr. Daniela Garoninternational medical coordinator at Doctors Without limitsone of WHO’s partners in managing the global stock of cholera vaccines.
“Single-dose vaccination will provide shorter protection, but it’s the fair and equitable way to try to protect as many people as possible as we face simultaneous cholera outbreaks.”
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said cholera can sometimes kill in a day and warned that outbreaks in 29 countries this year were putting “unprecedented pressure” on limited global vaccine supplies. He said authorities should aim to increase vaccine production and that “rationing should only be a temporary solution”.
The WHO said countries like Haiti, Malawi and Syria are struggling to stop large outbreaks of the disease and that climate change could make outbreaks more common because the bacteria that causes the disease can reproduce more quickly in warmer water.
In 2010, cholera killed nearly 10,000 people in Haiti after the disease was brought there by UN peacekeepers.
The WHO said that of the 36 million vaccine doses expected for 2022, 24 million have already been shipped for vaccination campaigns. He said there was no short-term solution to increasing production. A global cholera task force has estimated that the world needs about 250 million cholera vaccines through 2025, both to stop outbreaks and for preventive vaccination campaigns.
Shantha Biotechnicsan Indian subsidiary of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, previously announced that it would stop making cholera vaccines by the end of this year, leaving the world with only one maker of the easy-to-produce oral vaccine: the company sud -Korean EuBiologics.
Dr Michael Ryan, WHO emergency director, said it was not possible to estimate when countries might resume using two doses of the cholera vaccine.
“It reflects the scale of the crisis,” Ryan said, criticizing wealthy countries for not doing more to help boost production.
“It is a sad day for us to have to go back to a one-dose, life-saving strategy,” he said. “But if cholera were to spread in industrialized and wealthy countries right now, the production costs would be covered.”

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