A Chinese-made vaccine has been given a stamp of approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time. The move could herald a step towards China becoming a global vaccine maker.
The vaccine protects children against Japanese encephalitis (JE), a viral brain infection spread by mosquitoes that is common in parts of east and south Asia. The vaccine, formally known as SA 14-14-2, was added to the WHO's prequalified medicines list last week, giving it a WHO quality and safety endorsement. The practical implication is that it can be used by United Nations agencies.
The global supply and availability of vaccines against JE will be “greatly enhanced by the prequalification”, says Bernhard Schwartländer, a WHO Representative in China. “Now, it is eligible, in principle, for purchase by UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance.” The GAVI Alliance, a public–private global health partnership based in Geneva, Switzerland, will be discussing the purchase of the JE vaccine at its board meeting in November.
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