Global stockpile of cholera vaccines “empty or extremely low”: WHO

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A World Health Organization official said on Friday that the global stockpile of cholera vaccines it helps manage is “currently empty or extremely low” amid a resurgence of the disease around the world.

The UN health agency says there are around 30 countries around the world that have reported cholera outbreaks this year which is about a third higher than a typical year.

“We have no more vaccines. More countries are continuing to request (them) and it’s extremely challenging,” said Dr Philippe Barboza, Team Lead for Cholera and Epidemic Diarrhoeal Diseases, at the World Health Organization.

“All the vaccines that have been produced are already allocated,” he added.

He was referring to an emergency stockpile held by the International Coordinating Group on vaccine provision that is managed by the WHO and other partners. Typically, it has about 36 million doses available a year.

The shortage of vaccines has already prompted the WHO to temporarily suspend the standard two-dose vaccination strategy in October.

Barboza said part of the crunch was due to the decision by an Indian manufacturer to halt production, without giving details.

Many of the countries with outbreaks are those affected by poverty and conflict such as Haiti and Yemen but the disease has also been reported in countries like Lebanon which until recently was a middle-income country.