An Indian-made "freeze-free" vaccine carrier, which passed the WHO's performance, quality, and safety tests for usage in global immunisation programmes, will begin introductory field trials in Nepal this week, the world health body said today.
This is the first low-cost carrier innovation available to address the widespread and long-standing problem of vaccines freezing in the cold chain during the "last mile" of outreach to infants and children, the WHO said in a statement.
In low and middle income countries, health workers carry millions of temperature-sensitive vaccines next to ice packs inside vaccine carriers to reduce heat exposure, but this risks freezing the vaccines if ice packs are not conditioned (carefully warmed to around 0 C).
Freezing can irreversibly compromise vaccine potency, resulting in inadequate protection from disease for people receiving vaccines. When health workers suspect temperature damage, the vaccine or medication is often discarded - at great cost to health care programmes.
PATH's "Freeze-Safe" breakthrough solution mitigates the risk of vaccines being damaged by freezing or heat in carriers and eliminates the step of conditioning ice packs, reducing health worker burden, said Neeraj Jain, country director of PATH's India programme.
Frozen ice packs can be inserted immediately into the carrier thanks to a built-in barrier that shields the vaccines from reaching negative temperatures and excessive heat.
"This 'Made in India' freeze-preventive vaccine carrier can help health workers in India and globally to administer life-saving vaccines that do not freeze and could help save millions of lives," Jain said.
"Our priority is maintaining vaccine potency for the millions of people living in remote communities," said Pat Lennon, who leads the cold chain team at PATH. "In the future, vaccine carriers that prevent freezing will become the new standard for immunisation programmes."
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)