A new, inexpensive, easy-to-use cholera vaccine that is stockpiled for emergencies worked very well during a cholera outbreak in Africa, Doctors Without Borders reported recently.
Two doses of the oral vaccine called Shanchol, invented in Vietnam and produced in India, provided 86 percent protection against cholera, which causes diarrhea and dehydration so severe that it can kill, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month found.
The study was done by Epicentre, the research arm of Doctors Without Borders, and the Health Ministry of Guinea, during a large 2012 outbreak there. More than 316,000 doses were given out, and about 75 percent of the residents of cholera-affected areas got two doses, which is good coverage for an outbreak already underway. . . .
Shanchol, which costs less than $2, comes in a vial smaller than an energy shot. It was developed with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and its maker, Shantha Biotechnics, has said that large orders could push the price below $1 a dose.
It's hard to describe how huge this
is. Cholera is one of the great enemies of humankind. It kills about a hundred thousand people a year. Prior to the development of oral rehydration therapy (which was one of the all-time great medical discoveries) it killed many more.
It took until 2010 for the W.H.O. to accept the idea of fighting cholera with vaccines, “but now that seems mostly from the school of the overwhelmingly obvious,” said Rebecca F. Grais, Epicentre’s epidemiology director and an author of the study.
The amount of good the Gates can do with their money continues to be staggering.
"Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life."
-- Alan Watts, "The Way of Zen"