A major vaccines alliance announced of a new deal that will enable the supply of 600 million doses of new pneumonia vaccines at affordable prices in poor nations.
Some 1.6 million people die from pneumonia each year - including about 800,000 infants -- and 90 percent of the deaths occur in developing countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
AdvertisementThe Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) said affordable vaccines could save approximately 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to seven million lives by 2030.
Pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer agreed "to make long-term commitments to supply new vaccines against pneumococcal disease," GAVI said in a statement.
"The two participating firms have committed to supply 30 million doses each, for a 10-year period," it added. A spokeswoman confirmed that this was the number of doses to be supplied each year.
"Supply may start as early as 2010 and at a fraction of the price charged in industrialised countries," according to the alliance.
Some 1.5 billion dollars to launch the pneumonia immunisation programme will be provided by Britain, Canada, Italy, Norway, Russia, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The GAVI, set up in 2000 with the backing of software billionaire Bill Gates and UN agencies, is a major source of international funding to expand immunisation in poor countries.
The alliance says it has funded new vaccination programmes for 256 million children and helped avoid 5.4 million premature deaths.
The GAVI is meeting state and private donors in the Netherlands on Thursday seeking an additional 4.3 billion dollars for the next five years to expand affordable immunisation against a variety of diseases.
The WHO and UN Childrens Fund UNICEF - both partners in the alliance - last year launched a global drive against pneumonia, including vaccination in developing nations.