The 4-7 April convening of the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) evaluated the evidence that has been emerging over past years that single-dose schedules provide comparable efficacy to the two or three-dose regimens, a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
SAGE’s review concluded that a single-dose Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine delivers solid protection against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, that is comparable to two-dose schedules. This could be a game-changer for the prevention of the disease; seeing more doses of the life-saving jab reach more girls, the statement added.
“The HPV vaccine is highly effective for the prevention of HPV serotypes 16 & 18, which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer,” said Dr Alejandro Cravioto, Chair, SAGE, in the statement.
“SAGE urges all countries to introduce HPV vaccines and prioritise multi-age cohort catch up of missed and older cohorts of girls. These recommendations will enable more girls and women to be vaccinated and thus preventing them from having cervical cancer and all its consequences over the course of their lifetimes,” he added.
SAGE also recommended updating dose schedules in the statement for HPV as follows:
- one or two-dose schedule for the primary target of girls aged 9-14 years
- one or two-dose schedule for young women aged 15-20 years
- two doses with a six-month interval for women older than two years
Immunocompromised individuals, including those with HIV, should receive three doses, if feasible, and, if not, at least two doses. There is limited evidence regarding the efficacy of a single dose in this group, the statement emphasised.
It further said that WHO’s recommendations will be updated following further consultation across stakeholders.
Dr Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela, Assistant Director-General, WHO, commented in the statement, “I firmly believe the elimination of cervical cancer is possible. In 2020, the Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative was launched to address several challenges, including the inequity in vaccine access. This single-dose recommendation has the potential to take us faster to our goal of having 90 per cent of girls vaccinated by the age of 15 by 2030.”