Su­per drug to pro­tect stu­dents

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

A SU­PER­CHARGED vac­cine that pro­tects against sev­eral deadly can­cers will be pro­vided for free to all 12 to 13-year-old stu­dents from next year.

Gar­dasil 9, an im­proved ver­sion of the Aus­tralian-de­vel­oped vac­cine, will pro­tect re­cip­i­ents against nine strains of Hu­man Pa­pil­lo­mavirus (HPV) — up from four — and could pre­vent al­most 90 per cent of cer­vi­cal can­cer cases world­wide.

Some high-risk HPV types can cause se­ri­ous ill­ness and are re­spon­si­ble for about five per cent of all can­cers world­wide in­clud­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer, some form of throat can­cers and anal can­cer.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt will to­day an­nounce that the new vac­cine will be rolled out in high schools next year mean­ing stu­dents will only need two doses of the strength­ened vac­cine in­stead of three.

A re­cent study of more than 14,000 peo­ple world­wide found that the new vac­cine can pro­tect peo­ple against 90 per cent of HPVs that cause cer­vi­cal can­cer, com­pared to the cur­rent vac­cine which of­fers pro­tec­tion against 70 per cent. Co-cre­ator and for­mer Aus­tralian of the Year Pro­fes­sor Ian Frazer gave the first dose of Gar­dasil in Aus­tralia to the daugh­ter of a col­league.

Since then more than 200 mil­lion doses of the orig­i­nal Gar­dasil vac­cine have been in­jected in over 100 coun­tries world­wide.

Pro­fes­sor Frazer, whose co-cre­ator Dr Jian Zhou died in 1999, said it was great to see the roll­out of the Gar­dasil 9 “which will pro­vide ex­tended pro­tec­tion against cer­vi­cal can­cer to the next gen­er­a­tion of women world­wide”.

“I only wish ( Dr Zhou) could have been here to­day to see the re­al­i­sa­tion of our joint dream and vi­sion for this vac­cine,” Prof Frazer said.

“It’s also great to see Aus­tralian sci­ence lead the way.”

In 2007, Aus­tralia be­came the first coun­try to in­tro­duce a free HPV vac­ci­na­tion to teenage girls, with boys re­ceiv­ing the jab from 2013.

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