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Zoetis, Merck win new OIE rabies vaccine bank contracts

May 7, 2022
Life sciences

Zoetis and Merck Animal Health have been chosen by the OIE as the two new suppliers for the organization’s global rabies vaccine bank.

The companies will supply the bank for an initial duration of four years from 2022 to 2025. Zoetis will supply its inactivated injectable Defensor 3 vaccine in one-dose and 10-dose vials through its US business. Meanwhile, Merck will contribute its Nobivac vaccine in one-dose and 10-dose vials through it MSD Netherlands branch.

As of January 2022, two OIE vaccine banks are active. These focus on rabies and peste des petits ruminants (PPR). The rabies vaccine bank was first established in 2012 and aims to contribute to reaching zero human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. The OIE launched a call for tender to renew the suppliers of its rabies vaccine bank last year.

The OIE explained its vaccine banks are established through international calls for tender and selection procedures involving independent committees comprising international experts (OIE reference laboratories) and donor representatives. They can only be activated upon request from a country’s OIE delegate, sent to the director general of the OIE.

The organization said the creation of its vaccine banks – including those for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza – and delivery of the vaccines has been financially backed by Australia (FMD and rabies), Canada (avian flu and rabies), China (FMD), the European Union (avian flu, FMD and rabies), France (rabies and FMD), Germany (rabies), Japan (rabies), the Republic of Korea (FMD), New Zealand (FMD), the World Bank (PPR) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (PPR).

Generally, OIE vaccine bank contracts include possible clauses for direct purchase by beneficiary countries or by international organizations and partners. In 2014, the WHO decided to place all its orders for rabies vaccines for dogs through the OIE rabies vaccine bank.

The OIE said: “OIE regional antigen/vaccine banks may include ready-to-use, formulated vaccines which can be delivered in a timely manner if urgent requests arise. Production can also be organized on demand with possible replenishment mechanisms in order to meet the needs of a variety of different orders. This mechanism enables the rapid supply of emergency stocks of vaccines to affected countries, as well as planned deliveries at a lower cost, in order to vaccinate targeted animal populations at risk and to eventually target eradication wherever possible.

“With reference to rabies, the OIE vaccine bank supports the delivery of injectable rabies vaccines for dogs to eligible countries. The elimination of rabies is both a public health and economic priority and, hence, preventing the spread of this zoonotic disease is essential in order to reduce the number of human deaths and the socio-economic cost of the post contamination treatment of humans. Dog vaccination against rabies is the only way to break the cycle of transmission among dogs and between dogs and humans.”

Glenn David, executive vice president and group president at Zoetis, commented: “Working with the OIE and in partnership with the WHO to eliminate dog-mediated rabies is a major Zoetis One Health sustainability goal and a unique opportunity to further strengthen our working relationships for tackling many other diseases that impact animals and people.”

Over 26 million doses of rabies vaccine have been delivered or ordered by countries in Africa and Asia since the OIE Rabies Vaccine Bank was established. Nine unnamed vaccine producers entered bids for the new contracts from 2022-2025.

Last year, Namibia and the Philippines became the first countries with OIE-endorsed control programs for dog-mediated rabies. Countries can apply for OIE endorsement by submit their official control programs to “a very detailed process, which evaluates the sanitary measures in place and compliance of the member with OIE international standards”.

by Sian Lazell


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