"Another issue with the vaccine is that immunity wanes quickly - so, we do need a new vaccine that can better protect against the evolving strains, stop the transmission of the disease and provide longer lasting immunity." Vaccination still key but new vaccine needed
Prof Lan said while he would like to see a new vaccine developed and introduced in the next five to 10 years, the research team's important discovery did not render Australia's whooping cough vaccine redundant.
"It is critical that people are vaccinated to prevent the spread of whooping cough - the current vaccine is still effective for protecting against the disease - but new vaccines need to be developed in the long-term," Prof Lan said.
"We need more research to better understand the biology of the whooping cough bacteria, how they cause disease and what proteins are essential for the bacteria to cause infection, so that we can target these proteins in a new and improved vaccine.
"This will all help to future-proof new vaccines against the evolving whooping cough strains."
Dr Luu agreed it was crucial that Australia maintained its high vaccination coverage for whooping cough.
"Although the number of whooping cough cases has increased during the past decade, it's still nowhere near as high as what it was before the introduction of whooping cough vaccines," Dr Luu said.
"Therefore, we emphasize that Australia must maintain its high vaccination coverage to protect vulnerable newborns who are not protected by maternal immunity and cannot complete the three-dose primary vaccine course until they are six months old.
"So, vaccination is especially important for children, people who are in contact with children and pregnant women who need the vaccine to produce antibodies to protect their newborns from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of life."
In addition to babies under six months having a high risk of catching the disease, the elderly, people living with someone who has whooping cough and people who have not had a booster in the past 10 years, are also most at risk.
Whooping cough is characterized by a "whooping" sound and sufferers find it difficult to breathe.
The disease is more common during spring and spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and other people breathe in the bacteria. Source:
University of New South Wales Journal reference:
Luu, L.D.W., et al. (2020) Surfaceome analysis of Australian epidemic Bordetella pertussis reveals potential vaccine antigens. Vaccine . doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.10.062 .
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