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Vaccines in the Global Fight

DPRK_measles.jpg News this morning that European pharmaceutical company GSK had developed a low-cost vaccine "that may never cover its research costs" got me thinking about the industry and its presence in impoverished countries. The vaccine, which GSK is in the process of registering, protects against meningitis A and C and will be sold only in Africa.

In 2002, an estimated 57 million deaths worldwide were attributed to vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Of that number, about 26,000 deaths were from meningitis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a time line related to vaccines. It spans half a century, from the licensing of a polio vaccine, in 1955, to the 2005 declaration that rubella was no longer endemic in the U.S.

The World Almanac 2007 also has a guide to common infectious diseases and the number of cases of each that occur in the U.S. annually (pp. 148-49).

Links: "New Low Cost Vaccine for Africa" (BBC)
Vaccines Timeline (CDC)
Development of New Vaccines Fact Sheet (WHO)

Photo: North Korean schoolchildren are vaccinated against measles, UNICEF.


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