Earlier this year, The Unit was awarded a major grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to undertake a clinical trial of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) when given concomitantly with other vaccines within the WHO EPI vaccine schedule (measles and rubella combined vaccine and yellow fever vaccine).
The study kicked off in early July at Fajikunda Health Centre, Jammeh Foundation for Peace Hospital and Sukuta Health Centre; recently, participant recruitment reached the half way mark. ‘The teams have been working really hard at all three sites as well as in the labs, the office and in data entry’ said principal investigator Dr Ed Clarke. ‘This has allowed us to recruit over 850 infants in less than three months which is a huge achievement’
The forthcoming national polio immunisation campaign will interrupt recruitment for at least four weeks, ‘because children who have the oral polio vaccine drops can’t be recruited for this length of time’, Ed commented. ‘Nonetheless, it will give us a little breather although we will have a lot of follow-up visits to continue with. We will also be preparing for the final push in December and January.’
The IPV team is working closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the EPI officer of The Government of The Gambia and the regional health team. ‘We are very dependent on the support of these groups’ said Ed. ‘We could not do these important trials without their help and agreement and we try to re-pay this support with opportunities for training and by providing the public health officers and nurses with an understanding of clinical trials when possible.
Summarising the trial’s progress, Dr Clarke said ‘It’s a busy trial but everyone is working hard towards its success and, although challenging at times, it’s really going great!’