Chinese vaccine production to revolutionise the market

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Dr Margaret Chan highlights China's potential for increased vaccine production at lower prices following WHO approval of national vaccine regulator

Margaret Chan WHA 2012

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, addressing the opening plenary of the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly. Source: WHO/2012/Pierre Albouy.

Geneva, 21 May 2012 - China is set to revolutionise the vaccines market since the WHO deemed its national vaccine regulator functional last year, Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, said on Monday.

Effective regulatory oversight is essential since vaccines are used on a population wide basis and are usually given to healthy infants. By deeming China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) functional, the WHO recognise it to be a competent regulatory agency.

“Last year, after extensive technical collaboration, WHO prequalified China’s State Food and Drug Administration,” Dr Chan said at the start of the 65th World Health Assembly.

“Once individual vaccines are prequalified by WHO, the country’s capacity to produce a large number of vaccines at very low prices will revolutionise vaccine supplies and their prices,” she said, talking to a plenary hall, full with health ministers, experts, NGO representatives, and the media.

In 2001, the GAVI Alliance bought vaccines from a total of five vaccine manufacturers, of whom just one was in an emerging market. In 2011 vaccines were bought from 10 suppliers in 9 countries, including 5 emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, and India.

“Several recent studies have advised the international community to look to BRICS countries, namely Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa, as a way to maintain the momentum for better health,” Dr Chan said.

US$ 1 = US$ 18

A study in Health Affairs covering 73 Gavi-supported countries over the 2011–2020 period shows that, for every US$ 1 spent on immunisation, US$ 18 are saved in healthcare costs, lost wages and lost productivity due to illness. If we take into account the broader benefits of people living longer, healthier lives, the return on investment rises to US$ 48 per US$ 1 spent.

Ozawa S, Clark S, Portnoy A et al. Return on investment from childhood immunizations in low- and middle-income countries, 2011-20, Health Affairs 2016

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