Monday, 26 October 2009

Oral cholera vaccine has been found to be safe in India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 25: Oral cholera vaccine has been found to be safe in India and is likely to be introduced for inoculation in cholera endemic areas in the country including Hyderabad.

Though oral cholera vaccine consisting of killed whole cells has been present in the market for many years,
it is never prescribed by health authorities fearing its safety.

Vietnam is the only country where it is prescribed, though in a limited way. With India and several other countries showing bouts of cholera epidemic at regular intervals, the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute took up its safety and efficacy studies on Indian populations.

The IVI modified the vaccine to suit World Health Organisation standards and inoculated over a lakh people in Kolkata. A leading pharmaceutical research company from Hyderabad collaborated the project and prepared the vaccine. It is inexpensive and has been found to be highly useful in preventing cholera.

IVI advocacy officer Tae Kyung Byun told this correspondent that the vaccine protected individuals in age-groups one to 4.9 years, 5·0 to 14·9 years, and 15 years and older, and protective efficacy did not differ significantly between age-groups.

This modified killed-whole-cell oral vaccine, compliant with WHO standards, is safe, provides protection
against clinically significant cholera in an endemic setting, and can be used in children aged one to 4·9
years, who are at the highest risk of developing cholera in endemic settings like Hyderabad.

According to WHO statistics, cholera accounts for an estimated 1,20,000 deaths every year world-wide.
"WHO has recommended the use of oral cholera vaccine for control of the disease since 2001, and one such
vaccine, containing recombinant cholera toxin B subunit and killed whole cells is internationally licensed,"
he said.

The Kolkata trial has revealed that the vaccine is safe and confers 66 per cent protection in all individuals older than one year of age, eight to 10 months after vaccination, and 50 per cent protection, three to five
years after vaccination. The vaccine has been found to be safe and immunogenic in India.

Over all, the vaccine provides about 70 per cent protection against clinically significant cholera for at least two years after vaccination, equally in children and older people.

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