INDIA – Biotechnology firm Panacea Biotec has bagged a long-term supply order worth US$127.3 million (over Rs 1,040 crore) from UNICEF and Pan American Health Organization for supply of its pentavalent vaccine Easyfive-TT.

The order from UNICEF is worth US$98.76 million (about Rs 813 crore) for supply of 99.7 million doses during calendar years 2023-2027, Panacea Biotec said in a statement.

The company further said the order from Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) award is worth US$ 28.55 million (about Rs 235 crore) for supply of 24.83 million doses during calendar years 2023-2025.

This showcases the growing role India plays to support global health, Panacea Biotec Managing Director Rajesh Jain said.

Pediatric vaccination is critical to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly the target of reducing under-five mortality to less than 25 per 1000 live births.

The pentavalent vaccine protects children against five deadly diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and invasive infections caused by Hemophilus influenza type b, and is quickly becoming the foundation of global pediatric immunization programs.

Easyfive-TT, the world’s first fully liquid wP-based pentavalent vaccine, was introduced in India in 2005.

EasyFive-TT is a ready-to-use combination pentavalent vaccine that does not require preparation by healthcare workers at clinics, thereby reducing the number of visits to vaccination centers and the overall cost of immunization for all stakeholders, the company said

Following WHO prequalification in 2008, more than 150 million doses have been distributed to over 75 countries worldwide.

As per Human Vaccines and immunotherapeutics, the fully-liquid Pentavalent vaccine has been hailed as a “breakthrough in India’s Universal Immunization Program” having averted more than 7 million cases, approximately 31,000 deaths, and total benefits exceeding US$ 1 billion in DALY savings in India.

In the meantime, deadly diseases such as measles, tetanus, and whooping cough are on the rise in Ethiopia’s Tigray region after vaccination rates plunged during the civil war that broke out nearly two years ago, doctors and regional health officials say.

The percentage of children in Tigray receiving routine vaccines has fallen below 10% this year, data from the Tigray Health Bureau shows, undoing years of government efforts to boost immunization rates.

In its letter, the Tigray Health Bureau said the percentage of children receiving the full three doses of the Pentavalent vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, and Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) dropped from 99.3% in 2020 to 36% in 2021 and 7% this year.

The rate across Ethiopia was 65% in 2021, according to data from the UN children’s agency UNICEF.

The letter said the percentages of children being vaccinated against tuberculosis and measles have also plummeted from over 90% in 2020 to less than 10% this year.

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