Washington DC: It is a sigh of relief for Bangladesh, where oral cholera is an endemic disease, as a vaccine called Shanchol which is given as part of routine health services has been tagged safe and will protect children and adults from severe cholera.
The findings lend support to the use of the vaccine in routine mass vaccination programmes to help to control cholera in endemic countries.
The study shows that even with moderate vaccination coverage, cases of severe life-threatening cholera were reduced by nearly 40 per cent.
Over one billion people are estimated to be at risk of cholera in more than 50 countries where it is endemic and around 2.8 million cases and 91,000 deaths occur every year in endemic regions.
Author Dr. Firdausi Qadri said that their findings show that a routine oral cholera vaccination programme in cholera-endemic countries could substantially reduce the burden of disease and greatly contribute to cholera control efforts. The vaccine is cheap; two doses cost 3.7 US dollars, around a third of the price of the other licensed vaccine Dukoral.
She added that the key to control cholera was clean water and adequate sanitation, which half the developing world lack, but this remained a rather difficult reality for the world's poorest nations as well as those affected by climate change, war and natural disasters.
According to World Health Organisation, in India 676 651 cases were reported from 2000 to 2004 and there was a 24 per cent increase in the number of cases during these years.
The study is published in The Lancet.