Monday, 27 November 2017

Vaccination: A Dot for One and Cure for Two

The concept of vicarious learning is well known in the field of psychology. It suggests that a person can learn or unlearn a behavior just by observing the outcomes of that behavior, from someone else. That sets a good ground for the concern that would be discussed here today. We will discuss how vaccinating your child - especially when you have access to it can play a role in protecting those who do not have accessibility to these life-saving vaccines. Vaccination is a basic medical amenity, but is still a privilege for many in emerging economies.

Vaccination has shown a significant amount of reduction in many life-threatening diseases in the past few years. It is a way of making the body immune to diseases, by injecting weakened antigens (germs) of a disease such as measles or smallpox into the body. To its reaction, the body produces antibodies (protein) to fight these germs. It is a way of preparing the body to provide immunity from a disease. Moreover, vaccination is seen not only as a way of curing a disease for the one who gets vaccinated, but also for others around you, who unfortunately cannot afford this treatment with the help of Herd Immunity.

WHO published a report based on the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data in the year 2016, which stated that 5.6 million children died under the age of 5. The same sources have also reported that diarrhea is one of the most significant causes of death, along with other diseases such as malaria, measles and a few others1,2.

In a report by Global Disease Burden, 2016, it was revealed that India alone registered deaths of 0.9 million children under the age of 5. What is more shocking is that it is the highest number globally, even more than the countries ranking below India in poverty rates3.

When a child is vaccinated, it eliminates both the risk of the disease as well as its spread. However, these vaccines are not accessible to a large part of the population, especially in developing countries like India, due to costs and maintenance factors. As a result, parents who have accessibility to these vaccines are advised to get their children vaccinated, as it cuts down on the spread rate of these diseases.

Making this happen does not seem like a distant dream now, with some organizations already working towards it. One such initiative, in this direction, is taken by an India based organization, Hilleman Laboratories. Hilleman has adopted innovative technological modes to create vaccines at much lower prices, with the technique of novel packaging. This way, the cost reduction in manufacturing will also affect the accessibility cost.

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How Recent Innovation in Vaccination will ‘Help Combat Cholera in Present & Future Times’

During the mid of 19th century, in the Ganges Delta, a pandemic broke out in Jessore area of India, due to contaminated rice. This disease was quick to spread to the modern-day Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Fast forward to present times - we all know the disease as cholera ,as it was caused due to a bacterium named, Vibrio Cholerae1.

By the year 1820, cholera had already spread in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, killing 0.1 million people in Java alone2. Thereafter, Cholera has been a regular cause of death among children worldwide. Though cholera is still a global threat, it majorly affects developing nations where proper sanitation and access to safe drinking water remain a distant dream3. India is also among those countries which are struggling to eliminate this disease to lower its mortality rates.

Every year at least 525,000 children under the age of 5 die due to diarrhea, out of a total 1.7 billion diagnosed cases across the globe.Lack of access to treatment is the root cause of these deaths. To deal with this situation, it is important that accessibility for proper vaccination is provided to sufferers of this disease, especially in underdeveloped countries, where the disease affects the most.

This concept of affordable and easy to access vaccine seems to have well understood by a rather new organization - Hilleman Laboratories, a joint venture partnership between Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) and Wellcome Trust.

Hilleman started with a mission to provide affordable vaccines to the world for life-threatening diseases. On 12th October 2017, Hilleman Laboratories announced the results of Phase I/II clinical trial of their novel Oral Cholera Vaccine HillcholTM, at the Vaccines for Enteric Diseases Conference 2017, held in Albufeira, Portugal.

The clinical study was conducted in partnership with icddr, b(International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh)

Dr. Ajit Pal Singh, Vice President, Clinical R&D, Hilleman Laboratories, summarized the results of the study, saying that, HillcholTM proved to be safe and tolerable when studied on the 840 subjects, including adults and adolescents. The Hikojima strain in the vaccine expresses both the Ogawa and Inaba serotypes. He said that the results of the study were encouraging enough for them to continue the development of the cholera vaccine.

The current situation where, demand for the vaccine exceeds its supply rate, this project by Hilleman will prove to be a boon in the cholera treatment.

Dr. Davinder Gill, CEO, Hilleman Laboratories, also reciprocated the same thoughts - "There is an urgent need for effective and affordable cholera vaccine for use in both the cholera outbreaks as well as mass vaccination campaigns, also recommended by WHO”.

The development of this affordable vaccine by Hilleman Laboratories will prove to be beneficial for the developing countries in their fight against cholera, causing millions of deaths every year.

This move by Hilleman Laboratories also aims at contributing in the initiative announced by WHO to reduce cholera by 90%, by the year 2030, as stated by Dr. Davinder Gill. WHO Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC)is offering an effective platform to all multi-sector technical partners, to help the countries in their fight against cholera.

GTFCC brings together government andnon-governmental organization which work together to develop training, materials and technical guidelinesfor cholera control.

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About Me

Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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