A newly accessible vaccine against Japanese encephalitis is going to make the protection of more children in developing countries easier. The vaccine, manufactured in China, only needs to be given in one dose, it can be used for infants, and it is less expensive than other Japanese encephalitis vaccines.
Today, WHO has added the vaccine to its list of prequalified medicines, meaning that WHO has given the vaccine its stamp of approval in safety and efficacy terms, and United Nations procuring agencies can now source this vaccine. This is the first Chinese-produced vaccine to be prequalified by WHO.
“This is a welcome development both in the fight to protect children in developing countries from JE and in the future availability of vaccines more generally, as China is now producing vaccines up to WHO standards,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “There is a huge potential for vaccine manufacture in China and we hope to see more and more Chinese vaccines become WHO prequalified. The whole world will benefit.”
Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne flavivirus infection is a severe disease that involves inflammation of the brain. It is major public health problem and is endemic with seasonal distribution in parts of China, the Russian Federation’s south-east, and South and South-East Asia. As there is no specific treatment for Japanese encephalitis, supportive care in a medical facility is important to reduce the risk of death or disability. The disease is preventable by proven effective vaccines.
The newly accessible vaccine is available to the world now thanks to the outcome of several years of collaboration between WHO and the authorities of China on vaccine production standards and regulation.