Africa’s public health agency says countries hit by deadly cholera on the continent lack “immediate access to vaccines” despite global supply shortages.
The director of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told reporters Thursday that the agency is working with the World Health Organization on the GAVI vaccine and ways to get more doses.
Africa CDC is also working with two local manufacturers to determine if their facilities can be adapted to produce anti-cholera vaccines, Ogwell said. He didn’t say which ones.
The WHO and partners recommended in October that countries temporarily switch from using one dose of the cholera vaccine to two because of shortages due to the outbreaks of the water-borne disease surge globally.
They said one dose of vaccine has proven effective in stopping outbreaks “even though evidence on the exact duration of protection is limited” and appears to be lower in children.
WHO noted that Haiti and Syria also are trying to contain large outbreaks. WHO and partner agencies manage a stockpile of cholera vaccines that are dispensed free to countries that need them.
Malawi in southern Africa especially is struggling with a cholera outbreak. The country has recorded 3,577 new cases including 111 deaths in the past week, Ogwell said. They make up the bulk of the new cholera cases on the continent.
Since the beginning of 2023, there have been 27,300 new cases of cholera including 687 deaths in five African countries, Ogwell said.
The WHO has said climate change could make cholera epidemics more common, as the bacteria that causes the disease can reproduce more quickly in warmer water.