The human papillomavirus abbreviated as HPV is the most lethal group of viruses found in the medical world so far. HPV infections transmit from one individual to another quickly, and it causes multiple cancers. HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the most popular human papillomavirus. These two HPVs are associated with horrific facts and statistics. For instance, they are a significant risk factor for cervical cancer that kills hundreds of thousands of women around the world every year (Harris, 2015). According to the HPV Information Center (2017), these HPVs cause 70% of all cases of cervical cancer worldwide. The report revealed that 80-90 percent of the sexually active individuals are at considerable risk of being infected with these HPVs (HPV Information Center, 2017). It is such worrying facts and statistics that has prompted medical researchers to devise vaccinations against HPV. However, the biotechnology vaccines against HPV have various cost and functional limitations that make them ineffective and unreachable by all and sundry.
Limitations of Biotechnology Vaccine
Biotechnology vaccines are categorized as prophylactic vaccines. They are virus-like particles aimed at ameliorating the future effects of HPV. Unlike other vaccines, the biotechnology vaccines neither have viral genetic material nor living products. Despite this, they have various limitations.
A single biotechnology vaccine cannot offer protection for all types of HPV. According to medical glossaries, there are more than one hundred and fifty types of HPV (Mouchet et al., 2018). The developed biotechnology vaccines are not able to protect people from all these types. For example, Gardasil has been proved only to prevent diseases caused by HPV-16 and HPV-18 (the HPV associated with cervical cancer) as well as HPV-6 and HPV-11 (genital warts causing HPVs) (Rose, 2013).
The vaccines are too costly for developing countries where HPV is prevalent. The greatest number of cervical cancer cases are reported in these emerging economies. However, the prohibitive cost of the biotechnology vaccines for HPV such as Gardasil and Cervarix makes them unaffordable (Monie, Hung, Roden, & Wu, 2008). This biotechnology involves substantial research and development costs leading to high market prices.
These vaccines need refrigeration. They need to be kept at low temperatures to remain effective (Nicholas, Jeang, & Wu, 2008). It makes them unfeasible to individuals in rural areas and those in developing countries where electrical connections are limited, and refrigeration is untenable.
Lastly, the HPV vaccines are administered in needles. This requirement presents a big challenge for people from developing countries. In these nations, medical and sanitation equipment is expensive to buy. Thus, offering vaccines in the form of injections presents additional challenges like exposing both the attendants and patients to other infections like HIV. As these needles are expensive, it may encourage sharing which further exposes individuals to other medical issues.
With this background, therefore, biotechnology vaccines are not a dependable solution for HPV. Its use is not feasible for people living in low-income countries and rural areas. Their prohibitive cost of production and marketing combined with their storage requirements makes them inaccessible. Additionally, no single biotechnology vaccine can protect individuals from all types of HPV.
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Harris, R. E. (2015). Global epidemiology of cancer. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.
Monie, A., Hung, C. F., Roden, R., & Wu, T. C. (2008). Cervarix™: a vaccine for the prevention of HPV 16, 18-associated cervical cancer. Biologics: Targets & Therapy, 2(1), 107.
Mouchet, J., Salvo, F., Raschi, E., Poluzzi, E., Antonazzo, I. C., De Ponti, F., & Bégaud, B. (2018). Human papillomavirus vaccine and demyelinating diseases—A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pharmacological research, 132, 108-118.
Nicholas, J., Jeang, K. T., & Wu, T. C. (Eds.). (2008). Human cancer viruses: Principles of transformation and pathogenesis (Vol. 1). Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers.
HPV Information Center. (2017). Human papillomavirus and related diseases report world. Retrieved November 8, 2018, from http://hpvcentre.net/statistics/reports/XWX.pdf
Rose, M. (2013). Oncology in primary care. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.