So far it has only been used to protect tourists from developed countries when travelling to disease-ridden places, but it turns out oral cholera vaccine could hold a bigger role in the ongoing global battle. A new study and human trial done in Bangladesh has proven that it could be the key for controlling outbreaks.
It has not been previously considered that the oral vaccine, Shanchol, could not only provide protection from cholera, but could also be a key factor in gaining control of the disease worldwide.
Studies show that more than one billion people are currently at risk in over 50 less developed countries where it has settled as an endemic. Out of the 2,8 million people infected 91,000 die by the highly infectious disease spread through the vibrio cholerae bacteria.
It’s main symptom is acute watery diarrhea, which for 40% of the people infected can lead the way to sever dehydration that can be fatal if left untreated. It commonly spreads through overcrowded areas, such as cities of underdeveloped countries, through food or water contamination due to a severe lack of hygiene.
However, with routine vaccinations, it has been shown that cholera can be held at bay and substantially lower the death rate of the disease. The research done on 270,000 participants from 1 years-old or older, at risk of the infection where it’s widely spread.
They were randomly divided into three groups to receive different approaches and observe which showed the most promise. The first group was given the oral cholera vaccine, the second was provided the same along with information and instructions on proper hand-washing and instructions of drinking clean water, while the third group saw no intervention from their part at all.
Shanchol, produced by an Indian biotech company, was administered in two doses, each two weeks apart and presented with no grave side effects.
After the duration of two years, it was noticed that the vaccine reduced the chances of infection by 37% for the first group and an even better 45% for the participants who also received instructions on the importance of hand-washing and clean water.
Those who have received the oral dose of vaccine still remain to be monitored to see how long its effect will last, but the results were nonetheless extremely positive.
Researchers are now looking for the easiest, fastest and most cost-efficient way for people in the less developed countries to gain access to the vaccine. The cost of Shanchol is considered to be low in the United States, with two units placed at $3.75 and it’s three times cheaper than other approved cholera vaccines, such as Dukoral.
However, the price is still too high for the poorer parts of the world where it’s needed the most and the main method to prevent it is still the more sanitary life style that overly-crowded, underdeveloped countries sadly lack.
Image source: whyfiles.org