Costa Rica would again be the scene of a medical research that seeks to prove that it would not take more than a dose of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect women from cervical cancer.
There are more than 150 types of this virus, although not all affect the humans. HPV strains 16 and 18 are directly related to the development of cervical cancer.
Therefore, a new stage of the study that was conducted in 2011 and determined that it is not necessary to apply the 3 doses of the vaccine to obtain its protection is to be conducted in the country.
The previous study used a group of women who, for different reasons, did not receive the three doses, but only one or two.
Although they saw some protection, they were few and therefore did not have sufficient statistical power to obtain a definitive conclusion on the matter.
According to Paula González, director of the Costa Rican Agency for Biomedical Research (ACIB), in countries where high incidence rates and mortality from cervical cancer prevail, authorities do not provide the vaccine because it is a costly investment.
Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women receive at least 2 doses of the vaccine. The study consists of inviting women to participate and they would be offered the two vaccines that exist against the virus. A group of women will be given the 2 recommended doses and another group will be given a single dose.
The idea would be to compare women who receive the two doses recommended by the WHO, with women receiving a single dose, to demonstrate that a single dose protects as well as two,”
As explained, from the point of view of Public Health, the vaccine is recommended to be applied in women between 9 and 12 years old. This is because in that age range they make sure that most women have not started sex life.
However, for the study the researchers intend to vaccinate young people between the ages of 12 and 16, for two main reasons.
The first is that there is an initiative for the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) to include the vaccine in the national vaccination system. If it were included, the target population would be less than 10 years old, so that ACIB would leave that population open to public health authorities.
The second reason is that with these youngsters the study could have results in less time.
This research is planned to be extended for 4 years, to make an initial recommendation. This time is the minimum required by regulatory authorities worldwide to demonstrate that the vaccine works and allow its future application in a single dose.
The initiative is funded by the US Cancer Institute and the Gates Foundation. However, it is in the process of obtaining approvals from the ethics committees and the necessary permits to carry out the study.
These vaccines are always related to extremely dangerous side effects for women. Among them, it has been associated with the development of Guillain-Barré syndrome.