Vaccination drive to replace Indian vials
OM ASTHA RAI
KATHMANDU, March 31: The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) has decided to replace Indian vaccines, suspended in Nepal by the World Health Organization (WHO), with the products of a global company.
According to the Department of Health Services (DoHS), the first consignment of vaccines manufactured by Crucell Berna, a global biopharmaceutical company based in the Netherlands, Korea and Sweden, will reach Nepal on April 5. The first consignment will have 131,000 vials of Quinvaxem, a pediatric vaccine.
“We will soon resume our vaccination drive,” Krishna Bahadur Chanda, immunization program chief at DoHS, said. The government´s vaccination drive has been temporarily halted since March 24 after WHO recommended DoHS not to use vaccines manufactured by an Indian company, Shantha Biotech, following complaints from different countries about faults in its composition.
The vaccines manufactured by Shanta Biotech were introduced to Nepal in April last year. In the first phase, the vaccines were brought into use in 25 districts of the far- and mid-western regions. The second phase of the vaccination drive that started in December included 50 districts in the central, western and eastern regions. The vaccines are used for children under one year to protect them from Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza.
With the suspension of the Indian vaccines, thousands of vials have been brought back to five regional stores. “We will not use any Indian vaccines unless WHO withdraws its recommendations,” said Chanda. WHO has sought a few more weeks to look into the probability of some other faults in the composition of the vaccines.
As of now, mainly two faults in the composition of the Indian vaccines have been established. Particles of the suspended vaccine remain even after dissolving them in water. And some vials contain 0.1 ml less medicine than the required amount. The Indian vaccines should contained 0.5 ml of medicine to protect children.
Suspension of use of the Indian vaccines has jolted the government´s vaccination drive, which is aimed at reducing the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). “A serious point in this case is that the Indian company, whose vaccines are suspended, enjoys GMP (good manufacturing practice) certificates provided by WHO itself,” says a doctor associated with the government´s vaccination campaign. “How can a company that manufactures faulty vaccines get GMP certification?”
GAVI, largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to claim reimbursement of money used for procuring the Indian vaccines, it is believed. Each vial of the vaccine costs $ 3.4. The government had contributed $ 0.2 for each vial. The United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF) has been facilitating distribution of the vaccines, including customs clearancewww.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?...