February 01, 2016

New affordable oral cholera vaccine receives WHO prequalification

Marissa Chmiola
Communications Officer
Euvichol® produced by EuBiologics. Photo: IVI
Euvichol® produced by EuBiologics. Photo: IVI

In January, GHTC member International Vaccine Institute (IVI) announced that a new oral cholera vaccine it developed in partnership with Korean biotech company EuBiologics, Co. Ltd.—Euvichol®—received prequalification from the World Health Organization (WHO), paving the way for the vaccine to be purchased by global procurement bodies like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF.

GHTC’s Breakthrough blog is joined by Jerome Kim, IVI’s Director General, to learn more about this exciting development which will ease global supply limitations of the oral cholera vaccine and expand affordable access in countries where the disease is endemic.

  1. Tell us why this breakthrough is so critical.
  2. Cholera is a potentially fatal diarrheal diseases that affects between 1.4 million and 4.3 million people each year and causes as many as 142,000 deaths annually in low-income countries. Cholera is endemic in more than 50 countries, with outbreaks often occurring during humanitarian or natural disasters. Oral vaccines against cholera have existed since the 1990s as a potential tool to stem outbreaks. However, because the disease primarily affects poor communities there wasn’t a stable market to create demand for vaccine production at an affordable cost for these countries.

    To create a stable market for the vaccine, WHO created an oral cholera vaccine stockpile in 2013 to make the vaccine available at an affordable price for vaccinations in epidemic situations and endemic countries. In recent years, increasing demand for the vaccine created supply pressures on the stockpile and limited more extensive implementation of the vaccine.

    The prequalification of Euvichol® by WHO means a third oral cholera vaccine producer has entered the market. This will significantly increase the number of oral cholera vaccines doses available worldwide and address global shortages. Euvichol® is also expected to help bring down costs and expand access.

  3. How did the vaccine come to be developed and prequalified?
  4. The prequalification of Euvichol® is the culmination of a five-year long partnership between IVI and Eubiologics, a Korean biotech company.

    IVI worked with partners in Vietnam, Sweden, India, and the United States to develop a reformulated oral cholera vaccine to meet the needs of low-income countries. IVI originally transferred the technology to an Indian biotechnology company Shantha Biotechnics. Shantha licensed the vaccine in India under the name Shanchol™ in 2009 and received WHO prequalification for the product in 2011.

    To strengthen the cholera vaccine market further, in 2010, IVI transferred the technology for the vaccine to Eubiologics, as a second producer and manufacturer. Eubiologics advanced the product through clinical trials, receiving licensure from the Korean Ministry of Food and Safety in January 2015. This paved the way for the product to receive WHO prequalification in December, 2015.

    The development of Euvichol® was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Republic of Korea, and Sweden. The Global Health Investment Fund (an impact investment fund sponsored by the Gates Foundation and other partners), Korea-Seoul Life Science Fund, Korea Investment Global Frontier Fund, and Green Cross Corporation also provided funding to Eubiologics.

    The creation of Euvichol® is a great example of how the contributions of public, nonprofit, and commercial partners can be leveraged to advance technology development for diseases impacting the poor.

  5. What’s next for the vaccine?
  6. EuBiologics has initiated production of 6 million doses of the vaccine for 2016, which is expected to double WHO’s stockpile. IVI will continue to work with the WHO and partners to promote uptake of the vaccine and make sure it is available and used in places where it is needed most.

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