WHO approves new oral vaccine for cholera

Oral vaccine
Vaccines provide the fastest intervention to prevent, limit and control cholera outbreaks. Photo: AFP

A new oral vaccine for cholera has received prequalification by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

The inactivated oral vaccine Euvichol-S has a similar efficacy to existing vaccines but a simplified formulation, allowing opportunities to rapidly increase production capacity.

WHO prequalification list already includes Euvichol and Euvichol-Plus inactivated oral cholera vaccines produced by EuBiologicals Co., Ltd, South Korea, which also produces the new vaccine Euvichol-S.  

Vaccines provide the fastest intervention to prevent, limit and control cholera outbreaks but supplies have been at the lowest point amidst countries facing dire shortcomings in other areas of cholera prevention and management such as safe water, hygiene and sanitation. 

There were 473,000 cholera cases reported to WHO in 2022, double the number from 2021. 

Further increase of cases by 700,000 was estimated for 2023. 

Currently, 23 countries are reporting cholera outbreaks with most severe impacts seen in the Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The new prequalification is hoped to enable a rapid increase in production and supply which many communities battling with cholera outbreaks urgently need.


• Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. 

• Cholera remains a global threat to public health and is an indicator of inequity and lack of social development. 

• Researchers have estimated that every year, there are 1.3 to 4 million cases of cholera, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide due to the infection.

• Cholera is an extremely serious disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration. 

• It takes between 12 hours and five days for a person to show symptoms after consuming contaminated food or water. 

• Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated.

• Most people infected with Vibrio cholerae do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 1-10 days after infection. This means the bacteria are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

• Cholera can be endemic or epidemic. A cholera-endemic area is an area where confirmed cholera cases were detected during the last three years with evidence of local transmission (meaning the cases are not imported from elsewhere). 

• A cholera outbreak/epidemic can occur in both endemic countries and in countries where cholera does not regularly occur.

• Cholera is often predictable and preventable. It can ultimately be eliminated where access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as good hygiene practices, are ensured and sustained for the whole population.

• Measures for the prevention of cholera mostly consist of providing clean water and proper sanitation to populations who do not yet have access to basic services, as well as vaccination with oral cholera vaccines. 

• Health education and good food hygiene are also essential.

• Since the creation of the global stockpile in 2013, more than 50 million doses of oral cholera vaccines (OCV) have been successfully used in various settings through mass campaigns. 

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