NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech says it has developed the world's first clinically proven typhoid vaccine giving long-term protection to infants and adults.
Typhoid fever causes between 250,000 and 600,000 deaths a year and makes 20 million people a year ill. Around 90 percent of typhoid deaths occur in Asia and the disease occurs mainly in children under 5, the World Health Organisation says.
It is caused by Salmonella Typhi, a highly virulent and invasive bacterium, which is transmitted through food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people.
"Bharat Biotech’s Typbar-TCV™ (vaccine) induces 'T' cell dependent response with much higher antibody levels providing a very high rate of immunity," Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M. Ella said in a statement on Monday.
"We hope this vaccine will reach millions of people and help reduce the burden of this devastating disease in infants and children."
The Hyderabad-based company said this was the world's first clinically proven fourth generation vaccine, providing long-term protection against typhoid to adults and infants of six months and older.
It said currently available typhoid vaccines fell short in two major characteristics, namely long-term protection and protection for children below 2 years of age.
"Typhoid fever remains an important public health challenge in many countries of the world. At present fundamental prevention strategies like improved sanitation, good hygienic practices and access to clean water are still out of reach for many impoverished communities," said Christian Loucq, director-general of the International Vaccine Institute.
"One of the most cost-effective approaches to prevent infectious diseases are vaccines which are available now and could help control the disease, resulting in reduction of unnecessary suffering and adverse financial consequences."
Bharat Biotech said it had begun commercial production of the vaccine in pre-filled syringes and would produce 10 million doses a year, expandable to 50 million doses in the future, which would be available globally.