WHO has evidence demonstrating that the single-dose Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine provides strong protection against cervical cancer.
The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) summit, celebrated on April 4-7, assessed the evidence dropped over past years of studies, which demonstrates that single-dose schedules of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine provide comparable efficacy to the two or three-dose regimens.
SAGE's evaluation determined that a single-dose Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine delivers solid protection against the virus that causes cervical cancer, being this program comparable to 2-dose schedules. The expert's team considers that this could represent a benefit for the prevention of the disease, helping to save more girls' lives.
SAGE's recommendation is based on concerns about the slow introduction of the HPV vaccine into immunization programs and overall low population coverage, and poorer countries, as the 'silent killer' and almost entirely preventable, cervical cancer is a disease of inequity of access. According to the data collected, more than 95 percent of cervical cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer in women globally, is caused by sexually transmitted HPV. Ninety percent of the women who have contracted the disease live in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, SAGE Chair, said that "the HPV vaccine is highly effective for preventing HPV serotypes 16 & 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer." He added that "SAGE urges all countries to introduce HPV vaccines and prioritize multi-age cohort catch up of missed and older cohorts of girls. These recommendations will enable more girls and women to be vaccinated, thus preventing cervical cancer and all its consequences throughout their lifetimes."
SAGE's experts proposed to update the dose schedules for HPV with the following program: one or two-dose schedule for the primary target of girls aged 9-14; one or two-dose schedule for young women aged 15-20; and two doses with a 6-month interval for women older than 21.
There is data on the efficacy of a single dose in immunocompromised individuals, including those with HIV, who should receive three doses if feasible, and if not, at least two doses.
"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 percent of girls vaccinated by the age of 15 by 2030," said Dr. Princess Nothemba (Nono) Simelela, WHO Assistant Director-General.