Sunday, October 24, 2021

Vaccines are too valuable for generic shots

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Pressure is mounting on U.S. companies to share their powerful but difficult-to-manufacture vaccines to save lives, CNN’s Karen Devine reports.

Nearly 19,000 people died last year from a vaccine that will never be commercially available in the United States. And it’s incredibly difficult to manufacture. The only way to make the most powerful vaccines are on the other side of the world, where they are shipped to countries with vaccine shortages.

These shortages create tremendous hardships, and experts say they’re creating a perfect storm for those who get sick. Meningitis cases in the U.S. have increased almost threefold over the past seven years. But if you don’t have access to a flu shot in this country, you could live through it anyway.

So what can they do? The World Health Organization is holding its annual meeting this week, where representatives of more than 200 countries are meeting with local biotech companies to talk about whether they can provide vaccines at the lowest possible cost.

The problem is especially vexing for the developing world. In India, meningitis vaccines that are used to try to save lives can cost more than $8,000. That price is often too much for the poorest countries. It’s even higher in some places, like Lebanon, where one scientist told CNN there’s a shortage of meningitis vaccine. He was paid $10,000 to write a report that the government thought was adequate.

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