December 2, 2008

Partial Vaccine Just As Potent As Full

Researchers said on Tuesday, that giving just one-fifth the dose of a commonly used meningitis vaccine, may be as effective as using the full dose.

The findings will allow medics to stretch scarce vaccine resources, especially places like Africa.

Similar immune responses in patients given low and full doses of Sanofi-Aventis's vaccine Menomune was discovered during a clinical study in Uganda by Epicentre.

Serum Bactericidal Activity (SBA) response with a fifth dose was comparable to full dose for three bacteria types.

Another measure of immune response, IgG level, was lower for fractional doses.  The researchers said short-term protection needed during mass vaccination programs was best measured by SBA.

"In view of the current shortage of meningococcal vaccines for Africa, the use of one-fifth fractional doses should be considered as an alternative in mass vaccination campaigns," the research team reported in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Ever year, meningitis epidemics occur across a large part of sub-Saharan Africa spanning Senegal to Ethiopia, dubbed the "Meningitis Belt."

Meningitis infects the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can cause high fever, blood poisoning and brain damage.


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