Vaccine breakthrough deal set to save millions of children's lives

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A makeshift primary school for students at the UNMISS displaced persons camp in Bor, Jonglei state, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS/Mihad Abdalla

A deal to supply lifesaving vaccines to dozens of countries at half the price they usually cost could prevent 5.7 million child deaths, UN health experts announced on Wednesday.

Under the terms of the agreement with global drug manufacturers, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will buy 450 million doses of vaccine over the next three years.

Common childhood killers targeted by the pentavalent vaccine include diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, or whooping cough.

Andita Listyarini reports.

UNICEF and its partners have been working since 2001 to make sure the world's poorest countries can receive the pentavalent vaccine.

It protects against preventable diseases, from which more than 1.5 million children die each year.

The vaccine will be manufactured by six suppliers and will cost around 84 US cents a dose.

Shanelle Hall is Director of UNICEF's Supply Division:

"So from next year through 2019, we'll be able to procure this pentavalent which protects children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae B for less than one dollar a dose, and that is half the price that we're paying this year, this month, this week."

UNICEF will buy 450 million doses of the pentavalent vaccine over the next three years.

Most will go to 80 countries, with the majority being allocated to those supported by the Gavi Alliance, a global vaccine partnership.

Governments will also be able to access the vaccine at the new price, which UNICEF says will generate over US$366 million in savings.

Andita Listyarini, United Nations

Duration: 1’17″

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