Typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that causes high fever, headache and other symptoms, remains a serious health problem in the developing world. It kills almost a quarter of a million people annually, and infects about 21 million.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC), which includes the Oxford Vaccine Group, the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and PATH, a nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle, a grant of more than $36.9 million (£29.8 million) to work on the introduction of, and access to, new and more effective typhoid vaccines. Their research will focus on conjugate vaccines, which can trigger a stronger immune response in vulnerable populations.
At present, vaccines for typhoid fever are underutilized despite the substantial disease burden and a World Health Organization recommendation for the use of typhoid vaccines. If shown to work, typhoid conjugate vaccines could eventually provide countries with the option to vaccinate children at the same time they receive their other childhood immunizations.
The consortium will coordinate a range of projects to study and control typhoid, ensure the latest evidence informs global policies, and support countries that are introducing typhoid vaccines. The project will work with governments and policymakers to introduce vaccines in four countries in the developing world. The effort will also examine how well these vaccine rollouts work. The project’s overall goal is to develop workable models for typhoid vaccine introduction that can be used on a national or regional scale, in a way that will significantly reduce the severe health and economic burdens of the disease.
“Typhoid fever disproportionately impacts children and poor populations,” said Kathleen Neuzil, director of the CVD. “With our long history of work in typhoid and typhoid vaccines, we look forward to working with partners to catalyze action against this significant public health problem.”
The project will galvanize new vaccine introductions to reduce the morbidity and mortality inflicted by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi). “The prevention and control of S. Typhi is a global health priority, made more urgent by less effective treatment options,” said Anita Zaidi, the Director of the Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are pleased to support TyVAC as part of our overall strategy to prevent and control typhoid through an integrated approach including access to clean water, improved sanitation, and immunization.”
“We are excited to work in partnership with CVD to bring our expertise on typhoid infections and vaccines to the consortium and improve health through TyVac,” said Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group.