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Biotech firms offer low-cost vaccines to health NGO GAVI

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, and have independently agreed to supply pentavalent and rotavirus vaccines for infants at discounted rates to global health .

As a result, each pentavalent vaccine, which combines five different vaccines in one, will be available for $1.75 (Rs 78) a dose, while a rotavirus vaccine will cost $3 (Rs 134) for full course.

“Serum, which had already lowered its price to $1.75 per dose, the lowest price available today, announced it would continue to provide the most competitive pricing and encouraged other manufacturers to follow its lead. Panacea Biotec committed to lower its prices by up to 15 per cent,” a GAVI press release said.

The pentavalent vaccine protects against five potential killers: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea — the world’s second-biggest killer of children after pneumonia.

GAVI said Bharat Biotech’s offer of immunising a child against rotavirus for $3 can happen only by 2015 as the company, along with Serum Institute and Shantha Biotechnics, a subsidiary of Sanofi Pasteur, are yet to commercialise the vaccine. UNICEF, which procures the majority of vaccines funded by GAVI, was conducting a tender for rotavirus vaccines. It would assess offers from manufacturers in the coming months, the GAVI statement said.

According to Helen Evans, GAVI’s interim CEO, if each rotavirus vaccine could be purchased this year at $2.50, the impact on public health could be significant and would allow GAVI to save approximately $500 million till 2020, or about $140 million till 2015, as measured against GAVI’s current financial estimates.

GAVI Alliance is a Geneva-based public-private partnership aimed at improving health in the world’s poorest countries.

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