Belgian researchers develop new vaccine against yellow fever and rabies


KU Leuven and the Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP) in Brussels have set out to develop a vaccine that protects against both rabies and yellow fever. The vaccine has to be effective, safe, inexpensive, easy to produce and not temperature sensitive.

The vaccine is being developed in collaboration with two foreign research centres, together forming the RABYD-VAX consortium, which received a grant of €4.1 million from the European Union.

Rabies claims 59,000 lives each year, with half of the victims being children. The disease is most common in rural areas in Africa and Asia. Every year 30,000 people succumb to yellow fever, mainly in Africa and Latin America. Last year, for instance, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo were dealing with an epidemic.

Vaccines against these diseases already exist, but they are expensive and not sufficiently effective. One of the major disadvantages of these vaccines is that they have to be refrigerated during transport and storage, which makes their effective distribution difficult.

The project to develop the new vaccine will run until 2020, after which testing on human beings can begin.