Study: Cholera vaccine has 86% effectiveness rate

Two doses of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol provided an 86% percent protection rate during a recent outbreak in Guinea, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

While robust water and sewage systems have kept cholera out of industrialized nations in recent decades, the disease--which causes severe dehydration and can result in death--is still a major public health problem in many parts of the developing world.

The study, conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières and the Guinean Ministry of Health, looked at the efficacy of two complete doses of Shanchol in the first months of administration.

During a cholera outbreak in Guinea in 2012, the Guinean Ministry of Health and Médecins Sans Frontières administered 316,250 doses of the vaccine in two rounds in the coastal districts of Boffa and Forecariah over a six-week period beginning in April. The vaccination campaign reached 75.8% of people in Boffa and 75.9% in Forecariah.

The study found that, in vaccinated communities, high vaccination coverage reduced transmission of the disease--which affects the small intestine and is spread through water or food that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Vaccination with two complete doses of Shanchol was associated with an 86% protection rate against cholera.

The authors believe the study supports the use of a cholera vaccine to help control future outbreaks.

One of two vaccines endorsed by the World Health Organization to prevent the bacterial infection, Shanchol is manufactured by India's Shantha Biotechnics. The other is Dukoral, made by Dutch company Crucell. WHO is stockpiling Shanchol for use in emergencies because it is the more affordable option, is easier to produce, and is easier to transport and keep in storage, making it ideal for developing countries.

- read the press release
- get the article in The New England Journal of Medicine

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