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Haiti Passed Up Cholera Vaccine Offer, Crucell CEO Says

Ronald Brus, CEO of the Dutch vaccine maker Crucell, said Haiti did not accept an offer of tens of thousands of cholera vaccine doses late last year, the Financial Times reports. Brus said Crucell offered significant donations of its Dukoral cholera vaccine, but Haitian health officials passed on the offer, according to the newspaper.

“Peter Graaff, the current Haiti representative of the World Health Organization, said he was unaware of the specific Crucell offer, but that a decision had been taken by the country’s health ministry at the time to reject proposals for cholera vaccination,” the newspaper writes. Haitian officials did not respond to the Financial Times’ requests for comment, “but Jon Weigel from Partners in Health … who followed the discussions, said the rejection was justified at the time by concerns over the social tensions that could be sparked by distributing limited quantities only to some Haitians” (Jack, 7/10).

In related news, the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports that the number of cholera cases in Haiti has increased recently, “fueled by weeks of heavy rains that have helped spread the waterborne bacteria that flourishes in the country’s rivers and rice fields.” According to Haiti’s health ministry, at least 370,000 people have been sickened by cholera and more than 5,500 people have died from the disease since the outbreak began in October, the AP/Seattle Times reports. “The precise total is unknowable since many Haitians live in remote areas with no access to health care” (Daniel, 7/9).