A new, inexpensive, easy-to-use cholera vaccine that is stockpiled for emergencies worked very well during a cholera outbreak in Africa, Doctors Without Borders reported recently.
Two doses of the oral vaccine called Shanchol, invented in Vietnam and produced in India, provided 86 percent protection against cholera, which causes diarrhea and dehydration so severe that it can kill, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month found.
The study was done by Epicentre, the research arm of Doctors Without Borders, and the Health Ministry of Guinea, during a 2012 outbreak there. More than 316,000 doses were given out, and about 75 percent of the residents of cholera-affected areas got two doses.
Two vaccines have been stockpiled by the World Health Organization since 2013. But the older vaccine, Dukoral, made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was invented mostly for the wealthy travel market. Dukoral costs more than $5 a dose and must be given with a glass of alkaline soda as a buffer against stomach acid. Carrying soda and clean cups slows vaccinators down.
Shanchol, which costs less than $2, comes in a vial smaller than an energy shot. Its maker, Shantha Biotechnics, has said that large orders could push the price below $1 a dose.