With recent news of clinical trials for its low-cost HPV vaccine, the Serum Institute has already made waves in the world of Big Pharma. The India-based vaccinemaker is now gearing up to challenge the world's leading vaccinemakers in another area: pertussis.
Whooping cough is back with a vengeance, and the culprit may be the changing nature of the bacterium that causes the highly infectious disease.
The Council on Foreign Relations has attempted to make sense of the stream of news articles about disease outbreaks by plotting the outbreaks they report on an interactive map.
Researchers have blamed the rising incidence of whooping cough in recent decades on a myriad of factors, from the weaknesses of acellular vaccines to parents' decisions to delay immunizations. Fully reversing the trend will likely involve multiple factors too, but lawmakers could begin the process with one action--tightening rules on nonmedical exemptions from vaccinations.
For most of the second half of the 20th century, whooping cough was a disease of the past, one of many previously common infections practically eliminated by vaccines. Since the 1980s the bacteria has fought back though, and now FDA researchers have a theory why--vaccines might not be stopping transmission.
While doubts about the effectiveness of whooping cough vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi have mounted over the past year, health authorities have stressed the vaccines are helping. These voices gained supporting data this week when researchers found evidence of herd immunity effects.
While there is no evidence to suggest alternative immunization schedules cut the risk of adverse events, a JAMA paper shows they do increase the likelihood of contracting disease.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices held its second get together of 2013 last week, with vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi up for discussion.
Any medication involves a balancing of risk and benefit. In areas where there is an unmet need, a little more risk might be acceptable. But the waters get muddy when two treatments, one offering better results but greater risks, are available for patients.
Whooping cough is a tough disease to vaccinate against. Children are given five shots before they are old enough to go to school, yet even this multistep regime is failing to protect everyone. Last year a preteen booster shot was added to the vaccination plan in response to rising incidence.