Rabies vaccinations resume after COVID-19 pandemic

30Sep 2020
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Rabies vaccinations resume after COVID-19 pandemic

VACCINATION campaigns to eradicate rabies in Africa have resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement released yesterday from Nairobi, Kenya by Rabies Free Africa, a programme of Washington State University Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, said the work restarted on Monday which was World Rabies Day. 

Additionally, Rabies Free Africa said it has garnered an expanded partnership with MERCK MSD providing critical access to vaccinations, as well as a new partnership with #UnitedAgainstRabies, a programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Food and Agriculture Organisation United Nations (FAO).

This worldwide collaboration was established to raise public awareness we have the tools to eliminate rabies and we must work together to do it, unlike the current situation with COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges, but we are pleased to safely resume our work to eliminate human rabies deaths by 2030 through dog vaccinations and provision of life-saving human rabies vaccines,” stated Dr. Thumbi Mwangi, director of Rabies Free Kenya.

“On World Rabies Day we are delighted to be a part of #UnitedAgainstRabies efforts and also renew our commitment to the WHO’s ZeroBy30 effort which is critical to keeping the global spotlight on eliminating human and animal rabies deaths by 2030.”

Rabies Free Africa also made great gains this year in Tanzania in advancing ways to decrease the cost of delivering the vaccine to communities, especially those in rural areas. Dr. Felix Lankester’s research team has demonstrated that the rabies vaccine used to inoculate dogs is thermo-tolerant and can be stored for extended periods of time outside of refrigeration units, in inexpensive locally made clay vaccine storage devices called ‘zee-pots’ without losing its ability to protect dogs against rabies.“The ability to have vaccines stored for extended periods out of cold storage has allowed us to better leverage Tanzanian field officers and one health champions as vaccinators as rabies vaccines can now be stored in rural districts where electricity is not available,” stated Lankester, director, Rabies Free Tanzania.

“We hypothesize that having these new delivery and storage methods, will allow us to decrease the cost of mass-dog vaccination campaigns and increase the territory that can now be covered.”Approximately 59,000 people suffer and die of rabies each year, most of whom are children who interact more frequently with dogs.