GSK, Sanofi vaccines proving effective in measles outbreak

The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) has proven an effective tool in the past. In 2008, a U.K. study found one dose protects 95% of people against measles, with the follow-up shot immunizing most of the remaining 5%. Now similar data is emerging from Wales.

After analyzing data from the ongoing measles outbreak, Welsh health authorities have found the vaccine is effective for 99% of people after two shots. As in the earlier study, one dose conferred immunity on 95% of people. The U.K. National Health Service currently sources MMR vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Sanofi ($SNY), but it has used Merck ($MRK) in the past.

News that the vaccine is working as well as hoped was a bright point in a week in which the total number of cases moved past 1,000. A vaccination push has seen 4,000 people protected in the past month, but a further 5,000 in Swansea--the center of the outbreak--still need the jab. Across Wales, the number of children who still need vaccinating is reported to top 50,000. "While not enough children are vaccinated, this outbreak can easily spread anywhere in Wales. It is just a matter of time before a child is left with serious and permanent complications such as eye disorders, deafness or brain damage, or dies," Welsh health director Dr. Marion Lyons said. An inquest into a possibly measles-related death is already under way.

Some politicians are calling for an investigation into the whole outbreak. "When the epidemic has subsided, it is crucial that an independent public inquiry is set up by the Welsh government so that lessons can be learned for the future," conservative politician Darren Millar said. Millar is concerned about who is paying to control the outbreak at a time when Welsh health authorities are under financial pressure.

- see the vaccine effectiveness figures
- check out the BBC article
- here's the political statement