Nigeria Receives new meningitis vaccine

Nigeria Receives new meningitis vaccine

Nigeria has become the first country to receive the new MenFive meningitis vaccine from the Vaccine Alliance-funded global stockpile.

In a press statement by GAVI on Thursday March 7, the vaccine which was provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be used to respond to an ongoing meningococcus C outbreak,  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 over a 13-year period by PATH and the Serum Institute of India with support from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, gained WHO prequalification in July 2023. The vaccination protects against the five major serogroups of meningococcal meningitis that affect Africa: serogroups A, C, W, Y, and X. It is the only vaccine that is effective against serogroup X.

As of the end of 2023, 16 nations had accessed the global meningococcal vaccination stockpile 62 times since 2009, with more than 29 million doses distributed to support countries.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, funds worldwide vaccine stocks against cholera, Ebola, meningitis, and yellow fever, as well as outbreak response activities in low-income countries. The WHO’s International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision manages country requests for these stockpiles.

 “The ICG approved the deployment of 1,043,377 doses of MenFive in response to Nigeria’s request,” the press statement said.

Dr. Tokunbo Oshin, Director of High Impact Countries at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, commented on the achievements, saying, “With infectious disease outbreaks on the rise around the world, new innovations like MenFive are critical in helping us fight back.”

“Vaccines have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa; now we have a tool to respond to other meningococcal meningitis serogroups that continue to cause large outbreaks, resulting in long-term disability and death.”

“Gavi will be working closely with the Nigerian government as well as our partners such as UNICEF and WHO to support the response to this outbreak.”

Gavi said that this first shipment marks the beginning of its support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine strategy in high-risk countries, with the MenFive vaccine being distributed through outbreak response, routine immunisation, and catch-up programmes.

“Over the years, Gavi has collaborated with governments to promote meningitis A immunisation, reaching nearly 400 million children through campaigns and routine immunisation. These initiatives have helped Africa beat meningitis A, with no new cases reported 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,” according to the report.

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