Thursday April 18, 2019

Study: Partial Dose of Yellow Fever Vaccine Provides Protection

A full dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong immunity. Researchers will continue to study how long people who received partial doses are protected

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Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America.
Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America. Wikimedia Commons
  • Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease
  • Severe cases can cause jaundice and death, but most cases involve fever, muscle pain and vomiting
  • More than 350 people have become infected with yellow fever in Brazil since late last year

When stockpiles of yellow fever vaccine run low, partial doses are effective, according to a new study.

The report on the vaccine, which currently is in short supply, comes as officials in Brazil attempt to contain an outbreak with what they describe as the largest-ever mass vaccination campaign using partial doses.

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America. Severe cases can cause jaundice and death, but most cases involve fever, muscle pain and vomiting.

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Congo outbreak, experiment

During a major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016, the government aimed to prevent the disease from spreading in the capital, Kinshasa. Health officials launched a mass vaccination campaign targeting 7.6 million people.

But the outbreak had depleted vaccine stockpiles. Hoping to stretch the available supply, the World Health Organization reviewed the small number of available studies on using reduced doses and recommended using one-fifth of a dose per person.

It seemed to work.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers took blood samples from more than 700 people before and after they received the partial dose. In the new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly all of those vaccinated with the lower dose developed enough antibodies to the virus to prevent infection.

“That was the encouraging thing, that this can be done as a potential way — when there’s supply limitations on the vaccine — to help potentially control an outbreak,” said study co-author Erin Staples at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hundreds infected

More than 350 people have become infected with yellow fever in Brazil since late last year, and health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine.

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Staples says the new study is good news for controlling outbreaks like Brazil’s in the short term. But, she notes, “We still need some information about how long immunity will last.”

A full dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong immunity. Researchers will continue to study how long people who received partial doses are protected. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Might Declare Congo’s Ebola Outbreak an International Health Emergency

Capobianco cited Congolese health ministry statistics announced on Thursday showing 40 new cases over two days this week

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congo, ebola
FILE - Health workers carry a newly admitted confirmed Ebola patient into a treatment centre in Butembo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, March 28, 2019. VOA

A top Red Cross official says he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus in Congo after a recent spike in cases.

Emanuele Capobianco spoke by phone ahead of a key World Health Organization meeting in Geneva later Friday about whether to declare the Ebola outbreak in northeastern Congo an international health emergency.

ebola, congo
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an aid group, cautioned that case numbers were on the rise. Pixabay

Capobianco, head of health and care at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, cited Congolese health ministry statistics announced on Thursday showing 40 new cases over two days this week.

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He called that rate unprecedented in the current eight-month outbreak.

He cites lack of trust about Ebola treatment in the community and insecurity caused by rebel groups that has hurt aid efforts. (VOA)