New typhoid vaccine a major boost for children

Wednesday October 18 2017

A handwashing drive at a school in Kenya to encourage good sanitation. PHOTO FILE | NATION

A handwashing drive at a school in Kenya to encourage good sanitation. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI
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A new vaccine against typhoid has been proven to be safe and effective in preventing the disease, and can be used to protect both adults and children.

A study published in the Lancet is the first clinical trial to show that immunisation with the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) or Typbar-TCV is safe, well tolerated and will have significant impact on disease incidence in endemic areas that introduce it.

The trial was led by Andrew Pollard, a professor of paediatric infection and immunity at the University of Oxford in the UK, and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. It was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“This vaccine could be a real game changer...,” said Prof Pollard. “For the first time we will be able to offer protection to children under two years of age, which will enable us to stem the tide of the disease in countries where it claims the most lives.”

Typhoid is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi, and is responsible for around 20 million new infections and 200,000 deaths each year. Most of these deaths occur in Africa, South and South-East Asia.

The disease is associated with inadequate sanitation and contaminated drinking water. Children are especially susceptible but the currently licensed vaccines do not confer lasting immunity in them, and/or come in inappropriate formats.

“This vaccine would be a critical tool to help make real headway against this deadly disease,” said the director of the enteric and diarrheal diseases team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Dr Anita Zaidi.

Bharat Biotech International Ltd has submitted the Typbar-TCV to the World Health Organisation for prequalification. This determines that the vaccine is safe and effective and can be procured by the United Nations Children’s Fund for use in low resource settings.