Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Rangos Building, 855 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205.
Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, Nuffield Department of Medicine and the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Oxford University, UK.
Risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection vary, and there were an estimated 1.75 million new cases worldwide in 2015. The World Health Organization aims for a 90% reduction in new HCV infections by 2030. An HCV vaccine would prevent transmission, regardless of risk factors, and significantly reduce the global burden of HCV-associated disease. Barriers to development include virus diversity, limited models for testing vaccines, and our incomplete understanding of protective immune responses. Although highly effective vaccines could prevent infection altogether, immune responses that increase the rate of HCV clearance and prevent chronic infection may be sufficient to reduce disease burden. Adjuvant envelope or core protein and virus-vectored non-structural antigen vaccines have been tested in healthy volunteers who are not at risk for HCV infection; viral vectors encoding non-structural proteins are the only vaccine strategy to be tested in at-risk individuals. Despite development challenges, a prophylactic vaccine is necessary for global control of HCV.