The global vaccine stockpile: an essential tool in the fight against yellow fever

The global vaccine stockpile: an essential tool in the fight against yellow fever

Initially confirmed in Angola on January 19, 2016, yellow fever plague has since spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, affecting more than a thousand people and causing the deaths of hundreds of those infected. In light of this emergency, 18 million doses of yellow fever vaccine had been distributed to these three countries as of mid-June and the emergency global vaccine reserves were opened to them, as explained by the WHO in a June update.

This global vaccine stockpile was created by a WHO initiative with support from Doctors Without Borders, the UNICEF, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Together, in 1997, they founded the International Coordinating Group (ICG), designed to manage the emergency vaccine stockpile needed to respond to virus outbreaks.

When this stockpile was first formed, the ICG planned to have two million vaccine doses in reserve, but growing demand increased that to more than six million doses stocked per year. This year, the six million doses of yellow fever vaccine have twice been entirely depleted to respond to multiple outbreaks in Angola, which, as the WHO explains, is an unprecedented event. As stated on the organization’s website, “In the past, the ICG has never used more than four million doses to control an outbreak in one country.”



Faced with this unprecedented situation, the healthcare community can rely on the support of Sanofi Pasteur. In over 60 years, it has been the leading provider of yellow fever vaccine for travelers and people living in endemic zones, especially in Africa. For the year 2016 alone, Sanofi Pasteur is committed to supplying more than 20 million doses of yellow fever vaccine to the UNICEF. More than the half of these doses has already been sent to Africa, in order to help tackling the outbreaks in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. 

On a wider note, the new production unit located in Val-de-Reuil, France – which is dedicated to the production of yellow fever vaccine and was inaugurated in September 2014 – will give Sanofi Pasteur the means to better meet the growing demand on a global scale. Moreover, Sanofi will be able to face the recurrent outbreaks occurring in Africa and in South America.

In early August, the WHO is launching a major vaccination campaign in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo with the objective of immunizing 15.5 million people, as announced on Thursday, July 7, by Dr. Bruce Aylward, Executive Director ad interim of the Outbreaks and Health Emergencies Cluster.


Yellow fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by mosquitoes that affects persons living in the tropical zones of Africa and South America. The WHO records more than 200,000 cases of yellow fever annually, 30,000 of which are fatal. Over 90% of these cases occur in Africa.


read the article on The WHO website

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