HPV vaccine protects against 90% of cervical cancers

A new HPV vaccine protects against more strains of the virus and could be more effective in preventing cervical cancer than the jab currently used in the UK, a study has found.

HPV jabs: new vaccine could widen protection (Photo: Consolidated Scotland)
HPV jabs: new vaccine could widen protection (Photo: Consolidated Scotland)

The vaccine protects against nine strains of HPV, compared to the four strains covered by current vaccines, and is effective against 90% of the conditions caused by HPV, the researchers say.

The study was sponsored by Merck, which manufactures the vaccine trialled, Gardasil-9.

Dr George Kassianos, the RCGP clinical lead on immunisation, told GP that a surge in new vaccines covering more strains of HPV is expected in the years to come.

Licencing vaccines

New vaccines would have to be fully licensed and assessed before replacing the vaccines currently used on the immunisation scheme, he said.

‘In the next three to five years we are going to see an improvement on the existing two vaccines, in terms of covering more HPV viruses. Once they are available we shall be able to assess and compare with what we have.

‘This vaccine is not yet licensed so there is no practical reason to be contemplating introduction to the UK’s routine immunisation schedule,’ he said.

The nine-component vaccine was tested in 14,000 young women aged between 16 and 26 years. Currently, girls in the UK aged 12 to 13 receive the vaccination.

A related editorial in journal NEJM says the study is ‘a milestone in expanding the coverage of cancers associated with HPV’.

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