GAVI Alliance Launches Pneumonia Vaccine Project In Nicaragua

“A new vaccine against the most deadly forms of pneumonia, one of the world’s biggest killers of children, [was] launched in Nicaragua [on Sunday] as part of an effort to prevent 700,000 deaths in poorer countries by 2015,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 12/10).

“The event marks the beginning of a global routine immunisation programme against pneumococcal disease in the world’s poorest countries, supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI),” according to a GAVI press release. “Nicaraguan children will receive pneumococcal vaccines on a routine basis as part of a regular childhood immunisation package provided by the country’s Ministry of Health. To support the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine in Nicaragua, GAVI has already approved US$4,732,000 for 2010-2011, and expects to commit another US$10 million through to 2015,” according to the release (12/12).

Nicaragua is the “first developing nation to begin vaccinating children with the pneumococcal shots, made by drugmakers Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, and another 18 countries will follow in the next few years,” Reuters continues. “GAVI Alliance said in a statement on Friday that it hoped to be able to fund the vaccines for more than 40 countries in total by 2015 – a project it says could help avert up to 7 million deaths by 2030.”

In March, “Pfizer and GSK signed a 10-year deal with GAVI in March to supply 60 million doses a year of their Synflorix and Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccines to developing nations, at a discounted price of $7 per dose for the first 20 percent and $3.50 for the remaining 80 percent,” Reuters continues, noting “[t]he deal was the first under a new scheme called an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) which guarantees a market for vaccines supplied to poor nations and sets a maximum price drugmakers can expect to receive.” The deal reduces the cost from the $54 to $108 per shot typically paid by developed countries, the news service notes (12/10).

“GSK’s Synflorix vaccine protects against 10 strains of the streptococcus pneumonia bacteria which cause pneumonia, while Pfizer’s Prevnar 13 shot protects against 13 strains,” Reuters adds (12/10). A Pfizer press release adds details on Prevnar 13 and the company’s contribution to the deal (12/12).

According to GAVI spokesman Dan Thomas other potential suppliers for the immunization program include Panacea Biotech and the Serum Institute of India, but neither have yet to agree to the supply deal, Reuters adds.

“Thomas said GAVI had so far approved 19 developing countries to receive the pneumococcal shots, and at least another 20 more need the vaccines too, but that would depend on GAVI’s funding,” Reuters writes, noting the group is currently facing a $3.9 billion gap in the funds needed to run its immunization projects through 2015 (12/10).

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