Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton win Nobel Prize for medicine

Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton on Monday jointly won the Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering the hepatitis C virus.

The virus can cause liver disease that effects millions of people in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis C worldwide and 400,000 deaths from it each year.

The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis requiring liver transplants.

The World Health Organization in 2016 issued a strategy to wipe out the disease by 2030.

The Nobel Committee said the three scientists discovered a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that could not be explained by the previously discovered hepatitis A and B viruses.

Making the announcement from Stockholm, the Nobel Committee said their work, dating back in the 1970s and 1980s, has helped saved millions of lives.

“Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.

“Their discovery also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C.

“For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating hepatitis C virus from the world population,” the Committee said.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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