Fresh research studies have found interesting new proof that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine might work even better than doctors thought before.
Several large-scale studies have shown that the most popular HPV vaccines, such as Gardasil and Gardasil-9, can protect against up to 90% of cervical cancers for life.
Researchers found that when young women got the full dose of either the quadrivalent or 9-valent version of the vaccine, their risk of later getting an HPV infection, genital warts, or precancerous lesions on the cervix dropped by over 90%. This was a higher success rate than experts had thought would happen after early tests of the vaccine.
Over 14,000 women between the ages of 16 and 26 were randomly selected to receive either the vaccine or a sugar pill in a 2019 study that looked very closely at Gardasil-9.
The young women who got the real vaccine instead of the fake one had an amazing 95% lower chance of having problems with precancerous changes in their cervix, which often turn into full-blown cervical cancer if they are not treated.
“We’re thrilled to see such great rates of effectiveness,” says Dr. Elmar Joura of the Medical University of Vienna, who led the study. “This latest generation of the HPV vaccine appears capable of supplying practically complete, long-term protection against the strains of the virus responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers when administered at a young enough age.”
But maybe most importantly, later checks on the health of people who took part in early HPV vaccine studies have shown that the vaccines can keep preventing cancer at the same very high level for over ten years, with no signs of losing their effectiveness.
“We now have evidence that these vaccines offer durable protection even ten years after vaccination,” Dr. Joura says. “So not only do Gardasil and Gardasil-9 work really well, but they also keep working really well for a lot longer than we thought they would.” This is a huge step forward in medicine that could save tens of thousands of lives.
By preventing the transmission of cancer-causing HPV strains between sexual partners, experts think increasingly widespread vaccination against HPV could help eliminate cervical cancer altogether in the coming decades. That saves the lives of more than 250,000 women every year.