What Is the Current State of Vaccines in
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the only intervention that saves more from
infectious disease than vaccines is access to clean water. Vaccinations can
prevent disease. They have made diseases such as polio and smallpox all but
gone in the United States.
childhood immunizations are widely available in the United States, children in
developing countries don’t have the same access to vaccines and medicines. This
can result in greater numbers of illness and even death. According to Medicines Save Frontiers, vaccines save an estimated 2.5 million children
from death each year.
countries face unique diseases and barriers to access compared to developed
countries. Fortunately, efforts are increasing to boost the numbers of vaccinated
What Are the Barriers to Vaccine Access?
A number of financial and
geographical barriers keep people in developed countries from getting vaccines.
These include the following.
The vaccine’s route is not
adapted for developing countries. Also, some developing countries may not have
strong health systems. This can affect how well health providers are able to
give the vaccines.
New vaccines are typically highly
expensive and prices are going up. According to the journal PLOS, the average cost for the basic
vaccine package has increased from $1.37 in 2001 to $38 in 2011. The 2011
vaccine package does protect against five more diseases. However, developing
countries must often secure aid packages.
Some developing countries have
many remote locations that make getting the vaccine to people that need it hard.
To effectively prevent against a disease, healthcare workers must vaccinate a large
number of people. According to WHO, roughly
95 percent of a population must be immunized to wipe out some diseases.
Pharmaceutical companies may be
less likely to develop vaccines for diseases affecting only developing
countries that may not have the funds to complete highly expensive research.
Regulation for research is
another problem. For example, parasitic infections are a significant concern in
many developing countries. These infections aren’t as common in the United
States and Europe. People in developed countries wouldn’t need the vaccines. If
a pharmaceutical company created a vaccine, the company wouldn’t have the
regulatory oversight as in larger countries. Most companies have to have larger
sample sizes to test a vaccine’s safety. Without regulatory support, this
testing is even pricier and takes longer.
What Vaccines Are Currently Widely Available?
Vaccines for several medical
conditions are currently more widely available than others, thanks to efforts
from WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI). These
organizations provide a large portion of the funding and distribution for
immunizations. The “basic six” vaccines available in most developing countries
- BCG, which helps to prevent tuberculosis
But, according to PLOS, an estimated 22 million
children didn’t receive these basic immunizations in 2011.
Vaccines available in some
developing countries, but not as common as the earlier six include:
- hepatitis B
- haemophilus influenza type B
- yellow fever
Newer vaccines are often not as
available in developing countries. These vaccines include rotavirus,
pneumococcal conjugate, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Cost is often a
barrier to bringing these vaccines to low-income countries. Because the
vaccines haven’t been around as long, companies haven’t found a cheaper method
to make them.
How Many People Are Immunized?
According to WHO,
health workers immunized record numbers of infants annually. In 2008, workers
immunized 106 million children.
What Initiatives Are Ahead?
Companies are getting the funding
to research vaccines for developing countries by forming product development
partnerships (PDP). These PDPs are researching vaccines for diseases with
developing countries in mind.
One example is the Malaria
Vaccine Initiative (MVI). This wide network of universities, military, private
foundations, and pharmaceutical companies are conducting tests in African
The Meningitis Vaccine Project
(MVP) is another PDP. Meningitis is a significant problem in sub-Saharan Africa.
This project’s emphasis is on producing an affordable vaccine companies could