Vaccine developed to fight hepatitis E

Health experts in China say they have developed an experimental vaccine that safely protects people against hepatitis E infection.

Hepatitis E is spread through tainted food and water. While most people recover from it, it can cause serious illness in elderly people and has a mortality rate of one to three percent, Reuters reports.

Researchers studied 97,356 people in China’s Jiangsu province as part of a Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine. Half of the trial participants were given the vaccine and half were given a placebo. Xiamen Innovax Biotech's vaccine was given in three doses, according to Reuters.

Study results showed that within a year after the third dose, 15 of the participants who were given placebo were found infected with hepatitis E, while no one in the study group was infected.

The researchers told Reuters that they found the vaccine well tolerated and efficacious for a general adult population. They also noted that more studies were needed to determine whether the vaccine was safe for pregnant women and for people younger than 15 years of age or older than 65 years of age.

The researchers also told Reuters that no serious side effects were noted.

The researchers were led by Ning-Shao Xia of the Institute of Diagnostics and Vaccine Development in Infectious Diseases in Xiamen University.