Tuesday January 21, 2020

Pregnant Women To Be Vaccinated Against The Deadly Ebola Virus

Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus.

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Ebola
Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus. VOA

An independent advisory body convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends pregnant women and breastfeeding women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo be vaccinated against the deadly Ebola virus. Latest WHO figures put the number of Ebola cases in the DRC at 853, including 521 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in August.

More than 80,000 people so far have been vaccinated against Ebola in the African country’s conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces during the current outbreak. The vaccine is still in its experimental stage. But since 2015 it has been given to thousands of people in Africa, Europe and the United States.

The studies of the efficacy of the vaccine are not conclusive. However, they indicate the serum is safe and protects people against Ebola. On the basis of accumulated evidence, the group of immunization experts recommends continued ring vaccination for Ebola in DRC.

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The WHO says all vaccinated pregnant women will be closely monitored until the birth of their babies to see if there are any adverse effects. Pixabay

Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus. WHO spokesman, Tarek Jasarevic says the experts advise pregnant women at high risk of infection and death from Ebola should be given the vaccination.

“So, this aim, this vaccinating of women would protect them, provide them with more protection. But we also know that if we use this ring vaccination that women who are in the community that is vaccinated then have a low risk. So, it is really between risk and benefits and we hope that the use of the vaccine in pregnant women will generate some data for the future,” Jasarevic said.

ring vaccine
On the basis of accumulated evidence, the group of immunization experts recommends continued ring vaccination for Ebola in DRC. Pixabay

The group of experts advise the vaccine be given to pregnant women in their second or third trimester as well as to breastfeeding women and babies under one year old.

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The experts also recommend that one or more of three other new experimental Ebola vaccines be tested in areas neighboring the affected regions. They say pregnant and breastfeeding women should be included in these trials.

The WHO says all vaccinated pregnant women will be closely monitored until the birth of their babies to see if there are any adverse effects. (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s how HIV Patients Lose Immunity to Smallpox Despite of Vaccinations

HIV patients lose smallpox immunity despite vaccine says a new study by health experts

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HIV immune
The study found the immune systems of HIV-positive women who were on antiretroviral therapy had a limited response when their blood was exposed to the vaccina virus. Pixabay

HIV patients lose immunity to smallpox even though they were vaccinated against the disease as children and have had much of their immune system restored with anti-retroviral therapy, says a new study.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. It helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on HIV-associated immune amnesia could explain why people living with HIV still tend to have shorter lives on average than their HIV-negative counterparts despite being on antiretroviral therapy.

The study follows other research recently published in the journals Science and Science Immunology that found the immune systems of children who contracted measles similarly ‘forgot’ their immunity against other illnesses such as influenza.

Immune system
Researchers have found that HIV patients lose immunity to smallpox even though they were vaccinated against the disease. Pixabay

For the study, lead researcher Mark K. Slifka from Oregon Health and Science University in US, and his colleagues compared the T-cell and antibody responses of a total of 100 HIV-positive and HIV-negative women who were vaccinated against smallpox in their youth.

The research team chose smallpox because its last known US case was in 1949, meaning study participants haven’t recently been exposed to its virus, which would have triggered new T-cell and antibody responses.

They found the immune systems of HIV-positive women who were on antiretroviral therapy had a limited response when their blood was exposed to the vaccina virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine.

Normally, those vaccinated against smallpox have CD4 T cells that remember the virus and respond in large numbers when they’re exposed again.

Previous research has shown smallpox virus-specific CD4 T cells are maintained for up to 75 years after vaccination.

This finding happened despite the fact that antiretroviral therapy works by boosting CD4 T cell counts in HIV-positive patients.

This indicates that while antiretroviral therapy may boost total T cell counts overall, it can’t recover virus-specific T cells generated from prior childhood vaccinations.

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The research team plans to evaluate whether the same phenomenon occurs in HIV-infected men, and if people living with HIV also lose immune memory to other diseases.

Researchers from SUNY Downstate, Georgetown University, Cornell University, University of Southern California and John Hopkins University, also contributed to this study. (IANS)