GAVI is considering investment in new technologies to improve immunization efficiency.
At the 7th Board meeting (Stockholm - 11 March 2002) priority technology areas to increase access to immunization, presented by the Research and Development Task Force (R&DTF), were reviewed by the GAVI Board.
Three technology priority areas were defined:
- Decreased dependence upon and the ultimate elimination of the cold chain.
- Improved tools to measure immunization services performance.
- Reduced infectious waste and the ultimate elimination of the use of sharps.
After analysis, specific technologies were chosen in each area to be further explored by the New Technology Working Group (NTWG) of R&DTF. The NTWG has prepared a detailed scientific report on the selected technologies and made suggestions on how they could be developed and implemented in an efficient manner. These suggestions, complemented by the GAVI Working Group’s evaluation of investment opportunity cases, will be discussed at the Autumn 2003 Board meeting in their review of technology R&D investment opportunities.
The technologies currently under consideration are:
1. Sugar glass stabilization technology (Long-term target)
2. Non-invasive tetanus antitoxin monitoring test (Medium-term target)
3. Devices to "defang" syringes (Short-term target)
Sugar glass stabilization technology
Glass-forming sugars (such as sucrose and trehalose), and potentially other excipients (inactive ingredients that improve the quality and consistency of vaccines), can be added to vaccine formulations. As the vaccines are dried, glassy solids form that restrict molecular mobility and stabilize the vaccine, reducing the vaccine's sensitivity to heat and cold. Sugar-glass vaccines, once developed, could be transported and stored without refrigeration for their entire shelf-life, and could potentially free immunization delivery from the strictures of the cold-chain.
Non-invasive tetanus antitoxin monitoring test
These tests aim to collect data on protective levels of tetanus antitoxin (and other antibodies) in infants and toddlers as an objective measurement of the immunization services performance. A testing kit would use rapid detection techniques coupled with a non-invasive oral fluid collection device, similar to other commercially available tests, but which would identify anti-tetanus toxoid antibodies specific to DTP vaccination. These measurements would be a valuable epidemiological tool to verify data monitoring results of vaccination efforts.
Devices to "defang" syringes
When there is insufficient access clean injection equipment or to proper sterilization methods, injection's can directly transmit diseases from one person to another. This puts both the general public and health workers at great risk for contracting Hepatitis B, C, or HIV, as well as other diseases.
"Defanging", removing needles from used syringes, could prevent millions of infections following the improper reuse of unsterile conventional syringes, reduce the risk of needle-stick injuries, and reduce the number of used syringes by approximately 40 percent worldwide. And, at .08 cents per injection*, "defangers" are potentially a very cost-effective way to improve injection safety.
*cost of the equipment component only, operational and launch cost is not known.