Super drug to protect students
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.