The HilLeman Laboratories, an equal joint-venture partnership formed between Merck & Co and Wellcome Trust, announce their innovative technological intervention, thermostability to help improve coverage of the Routine Immunisation programme in India. With the vision to achieve 95 per cent coverage of Expanded Programme of Immunisation in India which will merit 70 – 80 million doses annually, Hilleman Laboratories is bringing in innovation to act as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academia and product development by increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines with heat stable, easy to use, affordable and novel packaging features.
Commenting on the current immunisation scenario, Dr Davinder Gill, Chief Executive Officer, Hilleman Laboratories said, “With a quarter of the current birth cohort left unimmunised in the country, India severely lags behind even when compared with lesser developed nations as well as its immediate neighbours. We aim to compliment the current ecosystem and help expand the supply chain, adding scale and lowering the manufacturing cost; making the existing vaccines accessible and affordable for the unimmunised in India and other developing nations.”
According to WHO, 70 per cent of the world’s 22.6 million unimmunised children live in 12 nations; with India home to the largest chunk of 6.9 million. According to the Immunisation Report by UNICEF and WHO, against the 67 per cent cover in India, our neighbours boasts a much higher coverage with Sri Lanka topping the list at 97 per cent followed by Bangladesh at 95 per cent, Bhutan at 92 per cent, Pakistan at 88 per cent and Nepal at 85 per cent.
The solution to amplify this figure lies in distributing life-saving vaccines without the requirement for large bulk shipments, expensive warehousing and costly, difficult-to-maintain refrigerated shipping paths from the manufacturing plant to the patient, currently spearheaded by Hilleman Laboratories. One of the key breakthrough results the company presents is about the thermo-stable property of vaccines enabling it to withstand tough temperature conditions of countries in Asia and Africa.
According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, one of the key constraints of enabling deeper vaccine penetration in India is attributed to limitations in distribution, public health delivery system and supply. Distribution is hampered by an inadequate cold chain and constraint to last-mile distribution, which has limited penetration of basic vaccines to 60-70 per cent.
EP News Bureau – Mumbai