The World Health Organization is expected shortly to approve a Chinese-made vaccine for aid agency use. The vaccine is to combat Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease prevalent in Southeast Asia that can be fatal especially in children. Some 50,000 cases a year are reported, with a quarter to a third fatal and a third of survivors suffering long-term disability.
Approval would mark a milestone for China’s pharmaceutical industry. It would be a first such pre-qualification for one of its products, and a gateway to lucrative global markets. The U.N.’s children’s welfare agency, Unicef, alone buys vaccines for 70 million children a year.
The vaccine is made by the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products, a unit of China National Biotec Group (CNBG), which, in turn, is part of the giant SinoPharm. CNBG can boast that every Chinese has been vaccinated by at least one of its products.
In March last year, the WHO certified the national drug approval agency, which opened the door to Chinese manufacturers applying for pre-qualification of their drugs. The Chendgu Insitute did so at the beginning of this year.
The company says that as of the end of 2010 it had already supplied 141 million doses of the vaccine to the region. Pre-qualification will help it expand that number greatly, and provide a boost to China’s fast-growing phama industry, not least by giving it a WHO quality stamp of approval.
We should note that it is now six months since the most recent case of polio was confirmed in the fatal outbreak of WPV1 in Xinjiang, the first in the country since 2000. The World Health Organization has removed China from its list of active outbreaks. There were 21 confirmed cases in the outbreak, leaving at least 17 people paralyzed, including eight children. Two cases were fatal. A mass immunization program has been undertaken, with a fifth round of vaccinations being administered this month to all children under 15 in Xinjiang and to everyone under 40 in the five worst hit districts, Hotan in the south, where the outbreak was first reported last August, Kashgar, Aksu, Bazhou and Kezhou. The disease is thought to have arrived from Pakistan, where it is endemic and where there have been 13 confirmed cases so far this year.
China is conducting a third round of mass vaccinations in the wake of the fatal outbreak of polio in July in Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang near the border with India and Pakistan, the source of the outbreak. The vaccinations started on Nov. 15 and will take a week. They are being given to 3.8 million children in Xinjiang–all under 15 years olds in the outbreak areas and all under fives in the other parts of the province, as well as to 4.5 million 15-39 years olds in southern Xinjiang. They are the same groups that received the second round of vaccinations in late September and early October.
Preventive programs are being conducted in all provinces across the country in an effort to again rid China of polio, which had previously seen its last case in 1999. Eighteen cases of polio have been confirmed in the latest outbreak in Xinjiang, 12 in Hotan prefecture, 5 in Kashgar prefecture and 1 in Bazhou prefecture. Nine cases are children under three years of age and nine young adults between 19 and 31 years old, according to the World Health Organization. One infant has died.
China has expanded its mass vaccination program following a fatal outbreak of polio in Hotan Prefecture in Xinjiang near the border with India and Pakistan, the source of the outbreak. Immunizations of 4.5 million 15-39 year olds in the south of the province started today, following confirmation that four of the 10 known cases involved young adults. Earlier this month, 3.8 million children, everyone under 15 years old in the outbreak area and all under fives in the other parts of the province, were given a first vaccination, with health officials going house-to-house, kindergarten-to-kindergarten and school-to-school. A second round will take place in early October. Children are being marked behind their ears with indelible ink to track whether they have been vaccinated. The outbreak, the first in China for more than a decade, has already killed one infant.
A mass vaccination program is underway in Xinjiang following an outbreak of polio that has left at least one infant dead. The World Health Organization has confirmed seven cases of wild poliovirus type 1 in the province over the past two months. (Update: Chinese officials have now confirmed 10 cases.) It is the first outbreak of polio in China in more than a decade. The disease, which can cause irreversible paralysis, is said to have spread from Pakistan, one of the few countries in which polio is still endemic.
The first cases were detected in July, four young children aged between four months and two years from Hotan (sometimes written Khotan) Prefecture. The Chinese government notified the WHO at the beginning of this month. Hotan is a sparsely populated region of 1.8 million people, mostly Uighurs, in 250,000 square kilometers on the southern rim of the Taklamakan Desert. It borders Pakistan to the west, India to the south and includes the disputed Aksai Chin, part of Kashmir that China controls but India claims. The blocking of historic trade routes between Hotan and India because of the dispute has boosted Hotan’s links with Pakistan.
The vaccination program applies to 3.8 million children in Xinjiang, all under 15 years old in the outbreak areas and all under 5 in the other parts of the province. The first phase was completed earlier this month. A second phase will take place early next month. (Update: With four cases now reported in young adults, the vaccination program is being expanded to cover 4.5 million 15-39 years olds in southern Xinjiang.)