Results, from the first, real-life trial of the oral cholera vaccine Shanchol, have shown that severe life-threatening cases of cholera were reduced by nearly 40 percent by the vaccine. The study also proved that the vaccine is safe to use and provides viable protection against the disease.
The study, examined the drug's effectiveness in urban Bangladesh where the disease is endemic. The findings represent a huge step toward controlling outbreaks and developing effective mass vaccination programs.
Although the vaccine is effective, easy to administer and relatively inexpensive to produce, it has never been tested on a mass group in real-life conditions until now. The study included almost 27,000 residents aged one year and older from the urban slums of Mirpur, in the city of Dhaka. The area poses an extremely high risk of cholera infection in the area due to overcrowding and poor sanitation.
The study results showed that overall incidence of severely dehydrating cholera fell by 37 percent after two years in the vaccination group and by 45 percent when used in combination with the hand washing and clean drinking water program. Analysis of individual protection showed the vaccine gave 53 percent protection against cholera during the two-year follow-up.
Worldwide, cholera affects 3-5 million people, and over 1 billion are estimated to be at risk of disease. The disease remains a danger in more than 50 countries where it is endemic. Experts warn that while vaccines form a remedy, ultimately, the key to controlling cholera is clean water and adequate sanitation, which half the developing world or around 2.5 billion people across the world lack.