Today the University of Maryland School of Medicine's (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) is proud to be part of vaccine history in Africa.
The first African child was vaccinated with the newly prequalified World Health Organization (WHO) typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV), Typbar-TCV, in Malawi. The clinical trial is led by Principal Investigator Professor Melita Gordon of the University of Liverpool and the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust (MLW) Clinical Research Programme. A total of 24,000 children in Ndirande and Zingwangwa townships will be enrolled in the Malawi trial.
"This clinical trial is the culmination of over 20 years of research focused on Salmonella disease here in Malawi," said Professor Melita Gordon. "Our teams of health workers, our local scientists, and our longstanding partners in the Malawi Ministry of Health and College of Medicine are tremendously excited to see the impact our research could finally have for health. We're ready to go, and really feel like Africa is watching us, with hope."
The vaccine trial in Malawi is part of the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), a larger effort to conduct impact studies of Typbar-TCV. Research in Nepal has been underway since November 2017 and research in Bangladesh is set to begin mid-year. TyVAC is led by Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH, Director of the CVD, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"We are excited and honored to be part of this historical moment - a first for Africa and a critical step in the fight to Take on Typhoid," said Dr. Neuzil. "Our partners at MLW and Blantyre Malaria Project have worked tirelessly to prepare for this study that will collect essential data in endemic settings with a high typhoid burden."
TyVAC, a partnership between the CVD, the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford and PATH, an international nonprofit, is conducting studies in Africa and Asia to accelerate introduction of TCVs in high burden countries. The data generated will be used to assess the impact of Typbar-TCV and support country decision-making and preparation for sustained vaccine introduction.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection that causes nearly 12 million cases and kills nearly 128,000 people each year. In Blantyre, typhoid affects over 100 in every 100,000 people annually. Typhoid is common in developing countries with poor sanitation and water.
About the Vaccine
Typbar-TCV is the only typhoid vaccine with a WHO stamp of approval for infants as young as six months. This conjugate vaccine is manufactured and licensed by Bharat Biotech. After more than two decades of development, WHO's prequalification of the vaccine is an enormous step toward making it available broadly in developing countries with high typhoid burden.
"Conjugate vaccines have been well-tolerated and highly effective against other diseases. We are very excited about the prequalification and introduction of Typbar-TCV. This is an enormous practical step for control of typhoid," said Myron Levine, MD, DTPH, the Simon and Bessie Grollman Distinguished Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean for Global Health, Vaccinology and Infectious Diseases.
In addition to conducting trials of the vaccine, TyVAC has joined forces with the Coalition against Typhoid to take on typhoid, an integrated approach involving typhoid conjugate vaccines and improved water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions.
"Typhoid is a significant public health problem in many parts of the world. Dr. Neuzil's leadership of the TyVAC consortium is another example of the critical role the CVD plays in improving global health around the world" said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also University Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. "Over several decades, the CVD has helped to save millions of lives. This generous grant from the foundation will allow our scientists, working with national and international partners, to continue with this crucial work."