Serum Institute of India's vaccine for meningitis beat out pricier alternatives from other vaccine makers, including GlaxoSmithKline. That's according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Best of all, inexpensive vaccine, called MenAfriVax, costs just 50 cents per dose.
Six hundred African infants and toddlers were given either MenAfriVax or Glaxo's Mencevax Acwy. Researchers found that four weeks after treatment, 96% of children who'd received the less expensive shot had high levels of antibodies in their blood, compared to 64% of kids who'd been dosed with GSK's vaccine.
"For more than a century, these African countries have been suffering because of this huge and devastating epidemic," lead author Marie-Pierre Preziosi told Bloomberg in an interview. "We now have a tool that has the potential to eliminate meningitis epidemics from Africa." She estimates that the less expensive vaccine could prevent 150,000 deaths by 2020. MenAfriVaxi is already available in Burkina Faso, which has experienced its lowest-ever year of meningitis cases so far in 2011.
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