It Looked As Though Millions Of Babies Would Miss Out On A Lifesaving Vaccine

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Two million. That is the number of babies who were at risk. Because the pharmaceutical company, Merck stopped providing lifesaving doc seen to several west African countries at the same time. Merckx was going to start selling the vaccine at a higher price to China NPR broke that story last fall. And now we have good news to report those babies will still get the vaccine as NPR's. Mike, lean do cleft reports other companies are now stepping in the vaccine is for a disease called Rotavirus, which infects basically. Every child on the planet every child. Whether you live in the US so you live in doping country is infected with this disease. That's Dr mature Santo, Shem Johns. Hopkins University pediatrician in an expert on Rotavirus. He says the disease causes very severe diarrhea here in the US children can easily get treatment at a hospital, but in poor countries without good healthcare systems would've virus can be deadly. It can be a very severe disease. Like I've seen kids died in front of my eyes. Santos says Rotavirus still kills about two hundred thousand children in babies each year. Because families in poor countries can't afford the vaccine here in the US it cost about two hundred dollars a course. So back in two thousand twelve the two companies that manufactured a vaccine Merck GlaxoSmithKline agreed to drastically, reduce the price for low income countries to about ten dollars a course Merck would supply four countries in west Africa in GlaxoSmithKline with supply, forty two countries. Cintos says this was great news could should not be denied vaccine, just because they belong to a poor country. Muck stuck to that agreement for six years, then last year, the company announced it was ending the agreement at the same time, Merck started selling the vaccine to China and a much higher price. Deborah Athalie is at the nonprofit path, which helps develop vaccines for poor countries. She says the global health community was alarmed. You have a, a major manufacturer of a vaccine announcing that they're going to exit from the market. And I think it created a bit of a panic for countries that were accustomed to having this vaccine. It also meant that more than two million babies in Burkina Faso Ivory coast. Mali in Sao Tome, Principe would go without the vaccine. That was November two thousand eighteen at the time. Moore told NPR in an Email that the reason for the pilot was supply constraints. The company also expressed quote, deepest regret to all the parties involved. Soon after NPR reported that story other vaccine manufacturers stepped up to fill in the gap. Glaxosmithkline is now supplying one country with the vaccine, and Athalie says to Indian companies Bharat biotech in serum institute of India will supply, the other countries in thirty says, no child will miss out on immunization because of Merck's termination of the agreement. We do not anticipate that any countries will have a gap in vaccinating their children. And so you think of this is a pretty big success story. It, it is we deal with tons of challenges in global health, and this is one where the global health community rallying around with the countries has really created success a success. That means millions of babies will now be protected

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