Scientists have found that Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV), the vaccine that was under trial in the country, is safe and 84 percent effective in protecting against typhoid.
From March to September 2018, about 28,000 children aged between 9 months to 15 years in Ndirande and Zingwangwa-Blantyre, were recruited in the typhoid vaccine trial and have been under study for 24 months.
Making the announcement to journalists in Blantyre on Thursday, Professor Melita Gordon, principal investigator for the study at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome (MLW) Trust said TCV was found to be effective in protecting all the age groups under study from typhoid, extremely safe from serious adverse invents, and kept the children protected for a long period of time.
Gordon said considering that typhoid is an increasing public health threat in Malawi and across sub-Saharan Africa with economic, social and health burdens, the findings signifies a relief from such burdens.
She said: “The TCV efficacy data are the first from Africa and offer great promise for the control of this deadly disease across the continent.”
According to Gordon, for every 100 typhoid cases, 44 families will receive a bad economic hit in terms of cost of treatment including medicines, transport, hospitalisation, 21 children will have serious complications such as jaundice, four children will have perforations and two children will die.
Because the vaccines works so well, the Malawi government plans to roll it out nationally next year.
There will be a mass vaccination campaign for children between the ages of 9 months to 15 years.
Gordon said with a good logistic plan, a good community engagement through Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) and people’s willingness to have their children get protected from the deadly disease, it is estimated that about 6 to 7 million children will be vaccinated. “After that the vaccine will be rolled out in the national Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) and will be administered to every child at 9 months”.
The study is being conducted through a partnership between the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust (MLW) and Blantyre Malaria Project (BMP) in Blantyre, Malawi.
In a statement, Professor Henry Mwandumba, MLW acting director said the outcome of the typhoid vaccine trial bears testament to what can be achieved through global research collaboration.
Said Mwandumba: “I would like to thank all partners and trial participants for this truly excellent work, which will have lasting health benefits around the world.”
Commenting on the findings, Dr Kathleen Neuzil, chief investigator for the TyVAC consortium said TVCs have potential to protect millions of children and hopes other countries will introduce the vaccine in their immunisation programmes.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and is a serious threat in many low- and middle-income countries. While typhoid is treatable, the effects can go beyond illness and death. Typhoid can impair physical and cognitive development in children, affect school attendance and performance, limit productivity, and reduce earning potential.
Malawi has a high burden of typhoid due to the emergence and spread of multi-drug resistant strains, which are now common in Malawi. An estimated 1.2 million typhoid cases and 19,000 deaths occur each year in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Malawi. The vast majority of these infections occur in school-age and pre-school children.