Mexico became the first country in the world to approve a vaccine against dengue fever. The vaccine is called Dengvaxia.
In a clinical trial conducted last year, Dengvaxia was found to have an effectiveness of 60.8 per cent against the four strains of dengue currently in existence.
A separate trial found that the vaccine reduced incidents of dengue hemorrhagic fever by 88.5 percent, making it extremely effective in protecting people against the life-threatening fever.
No other country in the world has introduced this vaccine yet.
The vaccine was developed by the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi over a period of 20 years, and will be available to children over the age of nine and adults under the age of 45.
This vaccine could potentially prevent more than 8,000 hospitalizations and 104 deaths annually and a huge sum every year associated with medical costs.
Dengue – a vector-borne disease – is a major public health concern; according to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s population is at the risk of acquiring the mosquito-born diseases.
Dengue causes high temperature and intense joint and muscle pain in the patients that are affected. In few severe cases, the disease also causes hemorrhagic fever, which is marked by bleeding and shock that can even be fatal.
Back home in India, the cases of dengue has doubled in 2015, with total of 90,040 cases of dengue having being reported in 2015 itself (Till November 30).
Furthermore, according to National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) reports, a total of 181 dengue deaths have been registered till November 30, which is third highest dengue deaths reported since the year 2009.
A statement released by Sanofi last week said: Dengvaxia has been approved by the Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk for prevention of dengue in people from the age group 9 to 45 years living in endemic areas.
Taking about the initiative, Olivier Charmeil , executive vice president for vaccines, Sanofi said:
“We are making dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease.”
It is still uncertain how widely this vaccine will be deployed within Mexico because of limits to its effectiveness and the national budgets of countries.
While some experts have said that the results were less effective than desired, it is was also noted that the vaccine seemed to be least effective in children younger than 9.
One other reason that the age bracket for this vaccine has been kept between 9 to 45 years old, is because children below 9, particularly those younger than 6 had an increased risk of having more severe disease in the long run.
But despite results being less than desired, Sanofi and some other experts said that its level of effectiveness would still be welcomed, as there are now no treatment for dengue as of yet and in one trial that involved children 9 to 16 in Latin America and the Caribbean, the vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from dengue by nearly 80 percent.