Updated on 11 July 2012
Researchers are looking at alternative delivery technologies for more effective and sustainable immunization programs
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a disease that causes infections of the lower respiratory tract mostly in infants and children, claims lives of nearly 200,000 children every year. Nearly all of these deaths -99 percent - occur in low-income countries. In developed nations such as the US, nearly all children are get infected by RSV before their second birthday.
There are many such diseases that claims thousands of lives every year for the lack of vaccines to prevent them.
Global agencies such as PATH, World Health Organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Research Council of Norway, the US Department of Health and Human Services and the UK Department for International Development are working closely to accelerate the development of vaccines for such diseases that will be effective and affordable in countries that most urgently need them.
But despite the innovations taking place in the field of vaccines, over 25 million new cases of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections occur every year in the world because of needle reuse or contaminated devices. Disposal of used injection devices is also a challenge in providing vaccination in areas with limited resources. All these have led the researchers to also focus on new delivery technologies to address these needs. (Read Drug delivery: 11 technologies of the future)
Auto-disable one-time use syringes and pre-filled syringes hold significant promise. Both syringes get deactivated following the use, thereby preventing improper use. Since 2007, UNICEF has procured over 1.3 billion auto-disable syringes every year for use in developing countries for immunization programs.