LONDON – A vaccine given to girls to protect them from a virus that causes cervical cancer is a "critical" health tool, and access to it must be scaled as quickly as possible, especially in poor countries, cancer experts said Monday
Speech From the World Health Organization's International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), an estimated 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2018, making it the fourth most common cancer in women globally.
Every year, more than 310,000 women die of cervical cancer, and the vast majority of deaths are in poorer countries where the rate of immunization against the human papillomavirus (HPV) is low.
In affluent countries, some anti-vaccine actors are also persuading parents to refuse the shot for their children, leaving them in danger, IARC says.
"Unbound rumors of HPV vaccines continue unnecessarily to delay or inhibit the upscaling of vaccinati," said IARC director Elisabete Weiderpass in a statement.
She said the IARC was required to fight cervical cancer and "undoubtedly confirm the effectiveness and safety" of HPV shots.
Britain's GSK produces an HPV vaccine called Cervarix, which targets two strains of the virus, while Merck makes a rival shot, Gardasil, targeting four strains.
In a separate statement addressed to the WHO last week, the GAVI vaccines also urged the Alliance for greater support for HPV shots and said it was aimed at immunizing 40 million girls in poor countries against HPV by 2020.
This would prevent an estimated 900,000 deaths, GAVI said.
IARC said that reducing the cost of vaccines in poor countries would play a crucial role in increasing access to them.
It said it was with the generic drug addict Serum Institute of India to develop an HPV shot that "could offer a high quality alternative at a lower price."