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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 02:44 GMT 03:44 UK
The difficulties of vaccine storage
A baby receives the vaccine
Vaccines must be kept refrigerated at the moment

The need to refrigerate vaccinations causes no end of difficulties in the developing world.

But news that a new way of storing jabs has been found has delighted health professionals trying to ensure all children receive vaccinations.

Dr Marc La Force believes the breakthrough by UK firm Cambridge Biostability, which has developed a new technique based on anhydrobiosis - a process which allows cells to be preserved in a dried out state - will save lives.

"Presently, vaccines must be kept cold," said Dr La Force, the director of the Meningitis Vaccine Programme, set up by the World Health Organization to combat the Africa epidemic.

"The heat-stable products pioneered by Cambridge Biostability Ltd mean that no infant will be beyond reach because we were unsure of the safety of the cold chain.

Stable liquid vaccines would be an advance of enormous proportions
Dr Marc La Force

"They will enable us to reach children even in remote areas.

Dr La Force said health workers face real problems keeping vaccines refrigerated in Africa.

"Many countries have great difficulties maintaining a functioning cold chain.

"Vaccines have to be kept cold all the way out to the recipient and that process is very demanding.

"In the health centres, refrigeration requires stable electricity, which is frequently unavailable.

"Often kerosene or propane-fuelled refrigerators are needed, and supplying fuel to these refrigerators is sometimes not easy.

"As a result, every day of the week in country after country, as much as one third to one half of the population is beyond the reach of a cold chain.

"Stable liquid vaccines would be an advance of enormous proportions.

"It would no longer be the rule that people living in the remotest areas would be the last to be served, if they are served at all."

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