A trial using 15,000 vials of MenAfriVac has successfully shown that the vaccines can survive the ‘last leg’ of the vaccine’s journey in nothing more than a picnic cooler.
The trial, published today in Vaccine, examined the effects of this approach, called a ‘controlled temperature chain‘ (CTC), on a drive across Benin to vaccinate against meningococcal bacterium Neisseria meningitidis group A back in 2012. The trial incorporated use of a new type of label used on each vial, which would change colour when exposed to temperatures of up to 40 °C for not more than four days.
The trial targeted a population of around 150,000, between the ages of 1-29, across 14 health facilities and 150 villages.
This research flies in the face of the widely held idea that vaccines need to be kept well within the 2°C to 8°C under which most vaccines are licensed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and various regulatory bodies.
By eliminating the need for ice packs when completing the last stage of a vaccine’s journey, organisations and health authorities can hope to reach far people without the costs or burdens associated with using ice packs. some even estimate that the use of CTC for the delivery of MenAfriVac could cut costs in half.
The authors hope that, by highlighting the resounding success of their trial, health organisations will begin to take seriously the possibility of CTC supply chains and that developers will begin to incorporate CTC trials into their research. And whilst they acknowledge that CTC will not work for every type of vaccine, it at least gives us a new tool in the fight to prevent disease in some of the world poorest and most vulnerable areas.