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MenAfriVac More Effective, Less Expensive Than Older Meningitis Vaccines, Studies Say

The meningococcal vaccine MenAfriVac, which is made by the Indian generic drug company Serum Institute, is “dramatically better” at producing a protective effect among African children in three countries than “older so-called meningococcal polysaccaride vaccines, including Mencevax from GlaxoSmithKline,” according to a paper describing two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports.

MenAfriVac, which costs about 50 cents per dose, is specifically designed to protect against meningitis A, which causes regular epidemics in Africa, whereas older vaccines, including Mencevax and Menomune from Sanofi Pasteur, protect against four meningitis strains, making them “more expensive and less targeted to Africa’s needs,” according to Reuters (Kelland, 6/16). MenAfriVac “could prevent about 150,000 deaths by 2020, lead author Marie-Pierre Preziosi said in a telephone interview,” Bloomberg reports (Narayan, 6/16).

IRIN reports on the MenAfriVac vaccine, writing, “The roll-out of a revolutionary meningitis vaccination in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has dramatically cut transmission rates, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and if each country can find sufficient funds to co-finance the campaign, it will be extended to all 25 countries in the Africa meningitis belt by 2016, says the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)” (6/15).

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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.