Polio vaccine technology transfer continues

As part of efforts to prepare for a lasting polio-free world, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are facilitating the development and transfer of new polio vaccine technology to production facilities in developing country settings

WHO and its partners are continuing the work of transferring new polio vaccine technology to production facilities in developing country settings. This work is part of ongoing efforts to ensure more affordable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) strategies, to prepare for the post-eradication era. New polio vaccine technologies will be transferred to two additional manufacturers: Sinovac Biotech Ltd in China and Laboratories de Biológicos y Reactivos de México (BIRMEX) in Mexico.

Affordable IPV will play a critical role in helping secure a lasting polio-free world, as outlined in the new Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic 2013-2018, to prepare for the phased removal of oral polio vaccines (OPV) in routine immunization programmes. Recognising that the current manufacturing costs and price of IPV is significantly higher than OPV, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is studying a range of approaches to establish affordable IPV strategies for use in low-income settings. The development, manufacture and distribution of safe, effective and affordable IPV that can be produced securely in developing country settings is a cornerstone strategy of this approach.

Traditional IPV manufacturing involves wild poliovirus seed-strains. Inadvertent biocontainment failures could potentially lead to serious consequences in some areas of the world in the post-eradication era (i.e. areas with high population density, inadequate sanitation infrastructure and low population immunity levels). Sabin seed-strains are based on attenuated virus and are therefore safer and less volatile to produce than traditional IPV in developing settings.

That is why in collaboration with Intravacc (formerly part of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment – RIVM – in the Netherlands), clinical lots of IPV produced from Sabin poliovirus seed-strains have been prepared. Results from a study performed with this clinical lot show this vaccine to be safe and effective. It is this new technology which will be transferred to Sinovac Biotech Ltd and BIRMEX, following selection of both companies as recipients by the Advisory Panel for Sabin IPV Development (a WHO expert review group established to assist in evaluation of proposals) and Intravacc. These technology transfers are part of a broader technology transfer programme, already initiated in 2011 through the selection of manufacturers in India (Panacea Biotec, Ltd) and the Republic of Korea (LG Life Sciences). This was followed by the selection of China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and Serum Institute of India in 2012.

WHO and Intravacc will continue the technology transfer programme. These technology transfers will help to boost the production capacity for vaccines and strengthening public health systems to ensure more equitable access to vaccines.


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