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The Rising Demand and Global Shortage of Cholera Vaccines: A Critical Challenge

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Medriva Correspondents
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The Rising Demand and Global Shortage of Cholera Vaccines: A Critical Challenge

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Increasing Demand and Shortage of Cholera Vaccines

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Cholera, a preventable and treatable disease, has seen a concerning surge in cases and deaths in recent years. In 2023 alone, over 667,000 cholera cases and more than 4,000 deaths were reported globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) classified the ongoing cholera epidemic as a grade 3 emergency, the highest emergency level. The situation is particularly alarming in Africa, which remains the worst-affected region with significant surges in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Consequently, the demand for cholera vaccines has skyrocketed, with 76 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) requested by 14 countries from January 2023 to January 2024. However, only 38 million doses were available during this time, indicating a global shortage of cholera vaccines. This shortage is especially concerning given that cholera is an easily preventable disease with proper vaccination.

Factors Contributing to Vaccine Shortage

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The shortage of cholera vaccines can be attributed to a variety of factors, including production capacity and distribution challenges. Despite the increased demand, the global stockpile of cholera vaccines awaits replenishment. All production up to March 8, 2024, is allocated to approved requests, leaving a critical shortage of vaccines for new requests.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that access to cholera vaccines is limited in some regions, including the United States. Despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for vaccination for people traveling to or living in areas of active cholera transmission, limited vaccine availability is a significant obstacle.

The Role of DUKORAL Vaccine

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Of the vaccines in demand, Valneva's DUKORAL® vaccine has seen a significant increase in sales. Valneva SE, one of the three manufacturers of the WHO pre-qualified oral cholera vaccines, reported a 72% increase in revenues in 2023. This surge in demand and revenue illustrates the critical role that this vaccine plays in the ongoing fight against cholera.

The Way Forward

Despite the increasing demand and revenue of cholera vaccines, the current global shortage is a serious concern that needs immediate attention. With the persistence of cholera into 2024, the need for vaccines remains high. WHO continues to assess the risk at a global level as very high, and the cholera situation remains classified as a grade 3 emergency.

Efforts must be intensified to increase vaccine production and improve distribution channels, particularly in regions most affected by cholera. Only then can we hope to control the escalating global cholera threat, saving more lives, and bringing us a step closer to a cholera-free world.

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