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GAVI Says Pentavalent Vaccine Price To Fall, But $3.7B Still Needed To Vaccinate Children In Developing Countries

The average price of a vaccine that protects children against five diseases is expected to “drop to $2.58 next year compared to the current average price of $2.97,” the GAVI Alliance said Friday, Reuters reports. The group credits the expected price decline, which “represents a decrease of 30 percent over the last seven years,” in part to an “increased demand for the pentavalent, or five-in-one vaccine,” according to the news service (Kelland, 11/26).

According to GAVI, the price “reduction [is] a result of Serum Institute beginning to manufacture and sell the vaccine for $1.58 after it increased the number of doses available in each vial, lowering packaging costs, [Dan] Thomas [a spokesman for GAVI] said,” Bloomberg reports (Malingha Doya, 11/29).

“The conjugate vaccine, which protects a child against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B, is highly useful in low-income countries where access to health services particularly in rural and remote areas is often limited and mothers have a much harder time bringing their infants to be regularly vaccinated,” according to a GAVI press release. “By using the pentavalent vaccine, widespread protection is achieved quickly and safely, shipping costs are lower and, with fewer syringes to dispose of, environmental impact is reduced. The number of injections for babies is also reduced,” according to GAVI.

The press release states that GAVI’s “commitment in 2000 to fund the vaccine for low-income countries has drawn new manufacturers to the market, creating competition and ultimately leading to a drop in prices.”

“By pooling the strong demand by developing countries and ensuring long-term sustainable funding, these vaccines are becoming increasingly affordable,” GAVI’s Interim Chief Executive Helen Evans said. “As a result, more children can be protected against these deadly diseases,” Evans said (11/26).

“Even with lower vaccine prices, GAVI says it still needs around $3.7 billion over the next five years to continue providing pentavalent shots for poorer countries, as well as new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrheal diseases, the two biggest killers of young children in the world,” Reuters reports. “GAVI, which is supported by the WHO, the World Bank, UNICEF, vaccine makers and research centers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that since its launch in 2000, an extra 288 million children have been immunized and more than 5 million premature deaths averted. … The group estimates that a fully-funded program would prevent 3.9 million future deaths by 2015” (11/26).

Bloomberg notes, “GAVI has raised $2.7 billion selling bonds … Last week, the alliance sold A$400 million ($387.4 million) of five-year bonds in Sydney, according to a statement on its website,” the news service adds. The article also adds details about GAVI’s plan to launch a pneumonia vaccine campaign in 13 countries next year and quotes Mary Robinson, former Irish President and outgoing chairwoman of the alliance (11/26).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.