New HPV vaccine offers greater protection against cervical cancer than current vaccine

SCIENTISTS have developed a new HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, which protects against nine types of the virus — seven of which cause most cases of cervical cancer. The new vaccine offers significantly greater protection than the current vaccine, which protects against only two cancer causing types of HPV.

    A pivotal international clinical trial compared the safety and efficacy of the new vaccine, Gardasil 9, with the current vaccine, Gardasil, in more than 14,200 women aged between 16 and 26 years old. The findings indicate that if uninfected populations are vaccinated with Gardasil 9, approximately 90 per cent of all cervical cancers worldwide could be prevented.

     Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that, among uninfected women, Gardasil 9 was 97 per cent effective at preventing high-grade cervical, vulvar and vaginal disease caused by HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58, and was equally effective as the current Gardasil vaccine in preventing diseases caused by HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18.

     Professor Jack Cuzick of Queen Mary University of London, who co-authored the report and participated in the design and analysis of the study, and served on the Trial Advisory Board, comments: “This is a significant achievement. The new vaccine, Gardasil 9, is not only safe but will offer greatly improved protection against cervical and other cancers. Eventually this will mean less screening is needed, as women will have greater protection from the outset.

    “Gardasil 9 offers the potential to increase overall cervical cancer prevention from 70 to 90 per cent, nearly eliminating this cancer among vaccinated women. However, it’s crucial to remember that vaccination must be done before exposure to the virus. Our focus for prevention must be on girls aged 12-13, as the current UK vaccine programme is doing, but the vaccine may also be appropriate for women 25-45 as part of a screening appointment.”

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