Essential medicines and health products

WHO prequalifies polio vaccine boosting efforts to eradicate the disease

On 1st October, WHO prequalified its seventh inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), ShanIPV™, produced by Shantha Biotechnics Private Limited of India, a Sanofi company.

“The prequalification of ShanIPV™ is another important step in bolstering the vaccine arsenal for the global eradication of poliomyelitis,” says Emer Cooke, Head of Regulation of Medicines and other Health Products.

The use of IPV is recommended by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) for vaccines as part of the ‘polio end game strategy’ to eradicate all forms of polio. While oral polio vaccine, the vaccine currently being used, stops transmission of the virus, it can – on rare occasions and in conditions of low vaccination coverage – give rise to vaccine-derived polio. Countries who have reached full immunization coverage with the oral vaccine are therefore encouraged to transition to IVP.

IVP is not a live virus and carries no risk of vaccine-produced infection. It protects against all types of polio by strengthening population immunity in countries that are polio-endemic or at high risk of importation of the virus.

The prequalification of this product is also important because the current IPV market is fragile, without enough near-term supply for all countries to have access to at least one full dose of IPV in their routine immunization programmes. ShanIPV™ therefore provides one more option for countries needing to transition to IPV.

With the WHO prequalification of ShanIPV™, UN agencies and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, can procure the vaccine to countries with the assurance that it is safe and effective.