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The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to be taken in response to a shortage of cholera vaccines.
Science & Health

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to be taken in response to a shortage of cholera vaccines.

The World Health Organization has urged for immediate measures to address the increase in cholera cases worldwide due to a limited supply of vaccines.

The WHO’s International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision stated that urgent measures must be taken to control a significant rise in cholera cases globally over the past few years. The large gap between the number of available vaccine doses and the current demand is putting immense strain on the global supply of vaccines.

The team oversees the worldwide stockpile of cholera vaccines and foresees a ongoing shortage of vaccines for at least two years.

Cholera is a rapid-onset gastrointestinal illness caused by consuming food or water that has been contaminated. If not treated promptly, cholera can result in death within a matter of hours. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 143,000 individuals die from cholera globally each year.

A major contributor to the spread of cholera is the absence of purified water, soap, and sufficient sanitation. Proposed solutions to reduce the spread of cholera include investing in safe water sources, promoting sanitation and hygiene practices, and enhancing testing methods to detect outbreaks sooner. Additionally, prioritizing the production of affordable oral cholera vaccines is crucial in preventing a rise in cases. It is also essential to support accessible and high-quality healthcare in general.

Unfortunately, the demand for the cholera vaccine is exceeding the supply from the sole producer, South Korean company EuBiologics. There are currently no plans for other manufacturers to start production before 2025, causing concerns about potential shortages to continue.

In 2022, the ICG reduced the recommended dosage for combating shortages by changing from two vaccinations to only one. As a result, there was a significant increase from previous years, with the number of cases rising to 473,000. The following year, in 2023, the number had risen even further to approximately 700,000.

The projected worldwide output of vaccines by 2024 is estimated to fall between 17 million and 50 million doses. Despite this, the ICG stated that it may not be sufficient to meet the demands of the millions of individuals impacted by cholera.

Certain details in this report were sourced from Agence France-Presse.