100 Millionth Person Receives Lifesaving Meningitis Vaccine

         100 Millionth Person Receives Lifesaving Meningitis Vaccine

PR Newswire

GENEVA, Dec. 3, 2012

Affordable, safe, effective vaccine protecting young people from devastating

GENEVA, Dec. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --A revolutionary meningitis
vaccine will reach the 100 millionth person this week in a region of Africa
that has been plagued by deadly epidemics for more than a century. The
milestone will take place in northern Nigeria, part of Africa's "meningitis
belt," where the country is conducting its second seasonal immunisation
campaign against the disease.

The historic achievement comes two years after the MenAfriVac® vaccine was
first launched in Burkina Faso. Since then, nine other countries have held
vaccination campaigns to protect people from ages 1 to 29 against meningitis

Nigeria will vaccinate 16 million people over the next two weeks and Cameroon
and Chad are also conducting immunisation campaigns this week targeting 5.5
million and 2.3 million people respectively. By the end of this year, the
vaccine will have reached more than 112 million people, providing widespread
and long-awaited protection.

The achievement will be recognised at the GAVI Alliance Partners' Forum, which
is bringing together developing countries, donors, civil society, technical
and research institutes, health agencies, and the vaccine industry this week
in Dar es Salaam, the capital of the United Republic of Tanzania.

"When we began developing this vaccine, we knew how desperately it was needed,
and we hoped it would quickly provide relief for the many people who dread
sub-Saharan Africa's meningitis season," said Steve Davis, president and CEO
of PATH, which partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to create
MenAfriVac®. "We are so proud to see African countries quickly embrace this
vaccine and to see that deadly and debilitating meningitis cases have
virtually disappeared in the regions that have been vaccinated."

"This milestone has been achieved thanks to the commitment of national
governments and support from WHO and other partners," said Dr. Flavia Bustreo,
WHO assistant director-general for family, women, and children's health. "We
must continue our efforts to implement vaccination campaigns in the remaining
meningitis belt countries and ensure widespread uptake of the MenAfriVac®

"Meningitis is a terrible disease which kills young people, creates severe
neurological damage in many survivors, and devastates communities," said Dr.
Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, which is providing funding for the
vaccines being used in the campaigns. "It is nothing short of remarkable that
exactly two years after the first GAVI-funded meningitis vaccination campaign
in the meningitis belt, the 100 millionth will have their life protected."

"The development of MenAfriVac® as a low-cost vaccine was critically important
for the global health community," said Chris Elias, president of Global
Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Vaccines work to save and
improve lives and the speed with which the governments in meningitis-affected
countries have introduced this new vaccine to protect young people is

"Meningitis A epidemics have affected the poorest families in countries of the
Sahel, in the worst cases killing one third of the affected community," said
Geeta Rao Gupta, deputy executive director of UNICEF. "But now campaigns are
bringing hope to the poor families of previously unreached communities, which
are mobilising their members around this safe, effective and affordable

Seasonal meningitis A epidemics threaten the lives of 450 million people
living in the meningitis belt, which stretches through 26 countries from
Gambia in the west to Eritrea in the east. The disease causes a painful
inflammation of the lining around the brain and the spine that can kill people
within 24 to 48 hours. Those who survive often face severe learning
difficulties, deafness, or amputated limbs. Children and young adults are most
at risk.

In the largest-ever seasonal epidemic in Africa's history, in 1996-1997,
meningitis A infected 250,000 people and killed 25,000. In 1997, African
ministers of health appealed to WHO and other partners to find a lasting
solution to the dreadful disease.

In 2001, PATH and WHO formed the Meningitis Vaccine Project to develop a
vaccine that would tackle the meningococcus strain that causes meningitis A at
a price that African countries could afford. Historically, new vaccines have
either not been designed to cover variants of diseases found in developing
countries or have been too expensive for developing countries to include in
their immunisation schedules. The partners worked with the Serum Institute of
India Ltd. to develop and manufacture the vaccine at a cost of less than
US$0.50 per dose.

The vaccine has already significantly reduced the burden of meningitis in the
regions where it has been introduced. In Burkina Faso, which launched the
inaugural MenAfriVac® campaign in December 2010, there were no cases of
meningitis A among those who were vaccinated.

"This vaccine is having a tremendous impact on the lives of people in some of
the world's most vulnerable towns and villages," Berkley said. "The partners
involved in developing this vaccine deserve tremendous credit for ensuring the
right vaccine is available at the right price."

On October 31, 2012, MenAfriVac® received approval be kept outside the cold
chain for up to four days at up to 40 degrees C, in a controlled temperature
chain (CTC). MenAfriVac® is the first vaccine intended for use in Africa
approved for this type of use, potentially setting a regulatory path that
other heat-stable vaccines can follow.

Cold chain limitations have posed logistical challenges for MenAfriVac® and
other vaccine programmes, increasing programme costs, delaying roll-outs,
limiting access to "last mile" communities and allowing outbreaks to continue.
Benin launched the pilot project using the new CTC approach during its rollout
of the vaccine November 15 to 25.

Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Sudan, Ghana, Benin, and
Senegal have all conducted campaigns with the MenAfriVac® vaccine since its
introduction in 2010.

About GAVI:
The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving
children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to
immunisation in developing countries. The Alliance brings together developing
country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the
World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists. GAVI uses
innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries,
to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since
2000, GAVI has financed the immunisation of an additional 370 million children
and prevented more than 5.5 million premature deaths. Learn more at
www.gavialliance.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

GAVI is funded by governments (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Korea, Russia, South
Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), the European
Commission, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as private and
corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc, The
Children's Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, His Highness Sheikh Bin
Zayed Al Nahyan, JP Morgan, "la Caixa" Foundation, LDS Charities).

To access broadcast-quality footage from the GAVI library, please visit:

About the World Health Organization:
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United
Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health
matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards,
articulating evidence-based policy options, improving global health security,
providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health

About PATH
PATH is an international nonprofit organization that transforms global health
through innovation. PATH takes an entrepreneurial approach to developing and
delivering high-impact, low-cost solutions, from lifesaving vaccines, drugs,
and devices to collaborative programs with communities. Through its work in
more than 70 countries, PATH and its partners empower people to achieve their
full potential.

For more information, please visit www.path.org.

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and
thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider
of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and
nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and
girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.
UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals,
businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and
its work visit: www.unicef.org


Website: http://www.path.org
Contact: Amy MacIver, PATH, +206.302.4522, amaciver@path.org; Rob Kelly, GAVI
Alliance, +41 22 909 29 78, rkelly@gavialliance.org; Kate Donovan, UNICEF,
+1-917-378-2128, kdonovan@unicef.org; Fadela Chaib, World Health Organization,
+41 22 791 32 28, chaibf@who.int.
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