Vaccine to protect South Asian children against devastating disease set for GAVI support

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Chinese vaccine industry enters world stage with WHO prequalified Japanese encephalitis vaccine

Geneva, 9 October 2013 – Children in South Asia at risk from deadly Japanese encephalitis (JE) are set to be protected using the first ever Chinese-produced vaccine to be approved for global use by the World Health Organization.

The GAVI Alliance is preparing to make funding available for the vaccine, manufactured by Chengdu Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd, following WHO’s prequalification. GAVI-eligible countries whose children are at risk from JE would be able to apply for support, with Cambodia and Lao PDR expected to be among the first to submit applications.

“Japanese encephalitis is a vicious illness that strikes quickly and usually has a devastating impact on children and their families,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “With GAVI support for this new vaccine the poorest countries in Asia will be able to protect their children from disability and death due to JE.”

The JE vaccine is the first Chinese-produced vaccine to receive prequalification by WHO. This means that UN agencies can purchase the vaccines in the knowledge that they meet international standards for quality, safety and efficacy and are appropriate for the target population.

Dr Berkley added: “It is exciting that for the first time ever we have a Chinese manufacturer certified to produce a prequalified vaccine. The Chinese vaccine industry has huge potential to benefit children living in the poorest countries by offering secure, predictable supply at affordable prices.”

The decision to open a funding window is due to be taken at the GAVI Alliance Board meeting in Cambodia in November. The Board had agreed in 2011 to support GAVI-eligible countries with JE vaccine once a prequalified product was available.

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