PULLMAN, Wash. – Expanding on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) commitment to end human rabies deaths by 2030, the Global Alliance Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) is expanding access to human rabies vaccines for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to provide equitable access to human rabies prevention following a suspected dog bite. This new commitment will strengthen how vulnerable communities address human rabies and establishes cooperative efforts with Rabies Free Africa, a program of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health (Allen School).
Rabies has the highest case fatality rate of any known infectious disease. Each year more than 60,000 people die from rabies, with over 99 percent of the cases contracted from a dog bite. The deaths are mostly in Africa, India and other parts of Asia and one‑half of the deaths occur in children under the age of 16.
“The GAVI board decision to invest in human rabies vaccine for post exposure prophylaxis will have significant and far reaching impact in multiple areas. It will save lives, notably children in underserved populations,” stated Dr. Bernadette Abela‑Ridder, team leader, Department of the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO. “Stable and increased vaccine demand will enable producers to plan and increase production, encouraging other producers to come to market and within the market boost development of new vaccines and products at a time when WHO prequalified vaccine production is in a parlous state.”
While for GAVI the core focus remains on its current mission of accelerating access to vaccines and increasing equitable coverage in the world’s poorest countries, GAVI is also adapting to meet the challenges of the future. This includes establishing greater availability and use of the PEP vaccine and will impact supply chain management and contribute to the wider strengthening of health-systems and bolster the canine component which is essential to take the next step from disease preparedness and response to disease prevention and elimination.
Dr. Guy Palmer, director of Rabies Free Africa and Regents Professor in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, added, “Working with an international partner such as GAVI, the Allen School is grateful for the ability to cultivate multiple approaches to addressing human rabies deaths. GAVI’s new commitment to expanding PEP vaccinations is a much welcome and critical addition to the mass dog vaccination campaign efforts of Rabies Free Africa.”
By combining game changing vaccine research, building international partnerships, along with community-based programming, WSU leads in development and deployment of the strategies needed to eliminate rabies.
- Laura Lockard, director communications, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206‑861‑6884 (cell and WhatsApp)