Faster, Better, Cheaper: New Vaccine Promises to Control Japanese Encephalitis

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China , India , Japan , Nepal , South Korea , Topic: Intervention/Prevention

[Note: This case study was originally published in 2009. Download a PDF or read the case study here.]

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is caused by a mosquito-borne virus similar to West Nile fever. Epidemic to endemic in East Asia, JE is the leading viral cause of neurologic disease on that continent. At least half the survivors suffer permanent intellectual or motor impairment. There are no antiviral treatments available. A JE vaccine appeared in 1988. It was produced by several Chinese manufacturers including the Chengdu Institute of Biological Products (CDIBP). Despite its advantages, distribution has been largely restricted to China. They wanted to internationalize the vaccine from the very beginning. Yet progress was slow until Chengdu entered a partnership with the Seattle-based nongovernmental organization PATH.

Lessons Learned:

  • Collaborative efforts can help facilitate the meeting of international development standards and World Health Organization prequalification requirements.
  • Detailed epidemiologic and vaccine efficacy studies provide the justification for conducting public vaccination programs.
  • Successful mass vaccination programs are greatly facilitated by a single-injection vaccine.


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