In January of 2016, the World Health Organization began reporting a dramatic increase in the cases of yellow fever occurring in Angola. When the article was published in April, there were more than 250 deaths and over 2000 suspected cases. While yellow fever is not new to our world, this is the most recent outbreak in more than a century. Efforts to vaccinate the populations have been effective but there is growing concern of a possible supply shortage of the vaccine, especially if the virus begins to spread to other countries. Unfortunately there is no antivirus or immune treatment to counteract yellow fever which is estimated to result in 30,000 deaths every year in Africa alone.
Currently the World Health Organization is leading the charge and is working on providing mass vaccinations, surveillance, and coordinating rapid responses to localized outbreaks. They are also coordinating efforts with the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and other organizations to provide care.
Oddly enough, the vaccine offers lifetime immunity with one dose yet the disease is still spreading. This is the problem that was examined by Dr. Alan D.T. Barrett. He found that one of the primary problems stems from the limited manufacturing capabilities; so far only 6 companies are allowed by the WHO to produce the vaccine. It has been produced the same way using chicken eggs since the 1940s, though modern technology can produce it more efficiently where applicable. Another issue he uncovered has to do with the dosing. The necessary amounts to stimulate an immune system response are rather low, yet in some cases manufacturers were using 1000 times the recommended dose. Therefor it could be feasible to simply reduce the amount per dose and have more doses.
Alan D.T. Barrett, “Yellow Fever in Angola and Beyond — The Problem of Vaccine Supply and Demand” New England Journal of Medicine 375 2016 301-303 Accessed 8/12/2016 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1606997