A single dose against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, offers similar protection to two doses in children under 21, experts in vaccination policy at the World Health Organization said on Monday. (WHO).
The different cervical cancers are almost all caused by a sexually transmitted papillomavirus infection.
There have been vaccines since the mid-2000s against this virus, but so far two doses are recommended.
Considering the latest data, the WHO expert committee stated that a single dose allows to protect young people aged 9 to 20 years.
The new recommendations would allow more girls and women to be vaccinated, “while maintaining the necessary level of protection”, said committee chairman Alejandro Cravioto, although he also said that national vaccination plans could continue to administer two doses if deemed necessary.
On the other hand, WHO experts still recommend two doses six months apart for women over 21. “For immunocompromised people, especially those with HIV, we recommend two doses, including three,” said Cravioto.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide. In 2020, vaccine coverage with doses on the planet reached only 13% of women. In the same year, the disease caused the death of 340,000 people.
About 90% of new cases and deaths worldwide in 2020 were in low- and middle-income countries.
“The single-dose option is cheaper, uses fewer resources and is easier to administer,” said Princess Nothemba Simelela, deputy director-general of the WHO.
“A woman dies every two minutes from this disease,” recalled the chairman of the WHO committee.