• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Nigeria first country to receive new meningitis vaccine

Nigeria rolls out new 5-in-1 meningitis vaccine, targets 1m

…over 1m dose received, marks first-ever use of new vaccine

Nigeria has become the first country to receive the new MenFive vaccine from the Gavi-funded global stockpile to respond meningitis outbreak among children.

The World Health Organization’s International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision approved the deployment of 1,043,377 doses of MenFive in response to Nigeria’s request.

The shipment delivered by United Nations Children Fund Wednesday evening will be used to respond to the on-going meningococcus C outbreak, targeting to vaccinate around a million children in six local government areas in Jigawa state: Babura, Birniwa, Gagarawa, Gumel, Maigatari, and Sule Tankarkar.

The MenFive vaccine, developed through a 13-year collaboration between PATH and Serum Institute of India, with support from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, received WHO prequalification in July 2023. The vaccine protects against the five main serogroups of meningococcal meningitis impacting Africa – meningococcal serogroups A, C, W, Y, and X. It is the only vaccine that protects against serogroup X.

Tokunbo Oshin, the director of high impact countries at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance speaking on the feat said. “With outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive are critical in helping us fight back. Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa: now we have a tool to respond to other meningococcal meningitis serogroups that still cause large outbreaks resulting in long-term disability and deaths.

Oshin assured that Gavi will be working closely with the Nigerian government as well as partners such as UNICEF and WHO to support the response to this outbreak.

Meningitis, according to the World Health Organization , is transmitted from person to person through droplets of respiratory and throat secretions, is an infection of the meninges, the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The disease is known to cause hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb loss or other disabilities and death, and can also be triggered by viruses, fungi or parasites. transmitted from person to person through droplets of respiratory and throat secretions, is an infection of the meninges, the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The disease is known to cause hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb loss or other disabilities and death, and can also be triggered by viruses, fungi or parasites.

The African meningitis belt stretches from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east (26 countries) including the northern part of Nigeria. Meningitis in these countries follows a seasonal pattern, being most common during the dry season (December through June) with a peak between March and April when there is persistent low air humidity and high dust loads that are believed to damage the pharyngeal mucosa and ease the colonization of the nasopharyngeal epithelium by the meningococci. Seasonal epidemics vary in size from year to year.

This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) program, which will see the MenFive vaccine rolled out through outbreak response, routine immunization, and catch-up campaigns in high-risk countries.

Over the years, Gavi has worked with countries to support vaccination against meningitis A, reaching nearly 400 million children through campaigns and routine immunisation. These efforts have helped Africa defeat meningitis A, with no new cases detected since 2017.

The addition of MenFive into health systems’ toolkit holds out the possibility that the other circulating serogroups could also one day be defeated.

As of end 2023, the global meningococcal vaccines stockpile had been accessed 62 times by 16 countries since 2009, with more than 29million doses deployed from the stockpile in support to countries.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpiles of vaccines against cholera, Ebola, meningitis and yellow fever, and supports outbreak response campaigns in lower-income countries. Country requests to these stockpiles are managed by the World Health Organization’s ICG on Vaccine Provision.