A major trial in the Far East has indicated an experimental vaccine to protect people against hepatitis E is safe and effective.
The disease, which is contained in faeces and transmitted via contaminated food and water, can cause severe illness in elderly people and has a mortality rate of 1 to 3%.
It is also particularly dangerous for pregnant women, with 5 to 25% of those infected dying, and survivors suffering high rates of miscarriage.
A phase III trial in China saw half of the 97,356 healthy participants administered the vaccine, which is manufactured by Xiamen Innovax Biotech, and half a placebo, with follow-up doses given after one-month and six-month intervals.
In a paper published in The Lancet, researchers said a year after the final dose, 15 members of the control group were found to be infected with hepatitis E, with none of the vaccine group affected.
Copyright Press Association 2010