Shipment To Nigeria Marks First-Ever Use Of New Meningitis Vaccine

Nigeria has become the first country to receive the new MenFive vaccine from the Gavi-funded global stockpile, with a shipment delivered by UNICEF arriving last evening. Doses will be used to respond to an on-going meningococcus C outbreak, targeting to vaccinate around a million children in six local government areas in Jigawa state: Babura, Birniwa, Gagarawa, Gumel, Maigatari, and Sule Tankarkar.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance funds the global stockpiles of vaccines against cholera, Ebola, meningitis and yellow fever, and supports outbreak response campaigns in lower-income countries. Country requests to these stockpiles are managed by the World Health Organization’s International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision. The ICG has approved the deployment of 1,043,377 doses of MenFive in response to Nigeria’s request.

The MenFive vaccine, developed through a 13-year collaboration between PATH and Serum Institute of India, with support from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, received WHO prequalification in July 2023. The vaccine protects against the five main serogroups of meningococcal meningitis impacting Africa – meningococcal serogroups A, C, W, Y, and X. It is the only vaccine that protects against serogroup X.

Dr Tokunbo Oshin, Director of High Impact Countries at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance comments on this milestone:

“With outbreaks of infectious diseases on the rise worldwide, new innovations such as MenFive are critical in helping us fight back. Thanks to vaccines, we have eliminated large and disruptive outbreaks of meningitis A in Africa: now we have a tool to respond to other meningococcal meningitis serogroups that still cause large outbreaks resulting in long-term disability and deaths. 

“Gavi will be working closely with the Nigerian government as well as our partners such as UNICEF and WHO to support the response to this outbreak.” 

This first shipment signals the start of Gavi support for a multivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MMCV) program, which will see the MenFive vaccine rolled out through outbreak response, routine immunization, and catch-up campaigns in high-risk countries. Over the years, Gavi has worked with countries to support vaccination against meningitis A, reaching nearly 400 million children through campaigns and routine immunisation. These efforts have helped Africa defeat meningitis A, with no new cases detected since 2017. The addition of MenFive into health systems’ toolkit holds out the possibility that the other circulating serogroups could also one day be defeated.

As of end 2023, the global meningococcal vaccines stockpile had been accessed 62 times by 16 countries since 2009, with more than 29million doses deployed from the stockpile in support to countries.

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