Published Oct 29th 2020020https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32282-0
This year, Michael Houghton, Harvey Alter, and Charles Rice were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Equally important to recognising the rigorous methods employed by these scientists, the Nobel committee also credited this discovery with later development of diagnostic tests and curative treatments. Science is not an end but a means to achieve a greater purpose. The Nobel committee issued a challenge, “For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world population”.
I, together with my colleagues in the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, agree.
The discovery of HCV placed the world on the path to elimination. Within a few years, reliable tests were available to screen donated blood, reducing the risk of HCV from one in every 14 units to one in every million. Over the following decades, with improvements in blood safety and infection control, new HCV infections declined an extraordinary 90%.
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