March 4, 2010
Pfizer's Prevnar 7 vaccine, which protects against pneumonia and meningitis, has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent pneumococcal infection in patients living with HIV in Malawi, according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports.
"In HIV-infected patients, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the risk of developing [invasive pneumococcal disease] IPD ... is between 30 and 100 times higher, the scientists said in their study," Reuters writes. "Similar shots known as pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPVs) are currently used to protect adults in Britain and the United States, but have had limited success in HIV-infected adults and are not recommended for use in Africa," according to the news service.
For the study, researchers compared the health outcomes of HIV-positive patients in Malawi who received the vaccines to those who did not, and found the vaccine prevented 74 percent of recurrent episodes of invasive pneumococcal disease. "The results suggest the vaccine may benefit other high-risk adult patient groups, the researchers said, although the cost -- at around $40 per dose -- may pose problems in poor countries" (Kelland, 3/3).
"This is the first trial to use a conjugate pneumococcal vaccine in an adult group and find clinical benefits," said Neil French, of the London school of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was the lead author on the study, ANI/Times of India reports. "The vaccine's efficacy at low CD4 counts is remarkable. The general view on the use of any vaccines in HIV is that low CD4 counts make the vaccine useless. ... This gives hope for the possible use of conjugate technology in other vaccines targeting important HIV associated bacterial infections, most notably non-typhoidal Salmonella," French said (3/4).
"The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine provides an additional therapeutic intervention for improving the care of HIV-infected adults that is both simple and safe to administer, which makes its use highly relevant in Africa," the study authors concluded (French et al, 3/4).