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New Vaccine Protects Children from Several Diseases

Update Date: May 29, 2013 09:37 AM EDT

The first ever enterovirus 71(EV71) vaccine could be within reach for young children suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease as a result of the EV71 infection. EV71 has afflicted over six million children and resulted in 2,000 global deaths within the past decade. Now, researchers report that a vaccine has reach phase-3 clinical testing and has so far been effective in protecting children from the diseases associated with the virus.

The research team recruited 10,245 healthy newborns and children between the ages of six and 35 months from four different regions of China. The virus has been known to be the most concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region, and has the potential to cause fatal meningitis and encephalitis. The four sites included three from the Jiangsu region and one from Beijing. The researchers divided the sample set randomly. Half of the children, 5125, received two doses of a placebo drug while the other portion, 5120 were given the vaccine. The dosages were administered 28 days apart from one another.

The team found that the vaccine gave the participants a 90 percent protection rate against the clinical EV71-associated HFMD (hand, face, mouth diseases) and an 80.4 percent protection rate against EV71-associated diseases, which encompassed neurological issues. The vaccine also protected children 100 percent of the time against EV71-associated hospitalization. The vaccine was effective for at least one year. The researchers did not find any severe adverse reactions to the vaccines.

"[The vaccine] could have a significant impact on public health by preventing severe outcomes of EV71 infection," the authors explained, according to Medical Xpress. However, the researchers stated that the vaccine has not been found to protect against coxsackievirus A (CA) 16, which has been known to co-circulate with EV71-associated HFMD.

EV71 was discovered in 1969 and since then, mostly affects children. There are no vaccines against this virus, which is why developing one that works would be vital in protecting young children.

The findings were published in The Lancet

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