by Michael Woodhead
August 20, 2010
Immunisation experts say there is no immediate need to consider switching from the current quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil) to a ‘stronger’ bivalent vaccine (Cervarix).
In a debate in the journal Sexual Health immunologist Professor Peter Stern of the Univeristy of Manchester says Australia should consider whether the bivalent vaccine may offer better long term value as its greater immunogenicity suggests that antibody levels against both HPV 16 and 18 will be sustained at high levels for more than 20 years. This means it would offer greater overall protection against cancers and also remove the need for boosters, he argues..
The lack of protection against genital warts would be offset by an increased efficacy against cervical and anogenital cancers, he says.
However, Professor Gerry Wain of the department of gynaecological oncology, Westmead Hospital in Sydney says the quadrivalent HPV vaccination program is now well established in Australia, and there is no strong argument to change on the basis of cost savings, especially as the quadrivalent vaccine has other documented health benefits, such as on genital warts.
Future policy on cervical cancer should look to changes in screening, such as by adding HPV screening, he says, rather than altering the vaccine program.