Philippines becomes first Asian nation to approve Dengue vaccine
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Philippines is the first Asian country to adopt the new vaccine against dengue fever from mosquito that infects 400 million people worldwide every year. Dengvaxia, the first vaccine for this type of disease, was developed in France by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, and was approved for the first time in Mexico two weeks ago.
Currently, the product is under investigation in 20 countries across Asia and Latin America. Millions of doses of the vaccine are ready for delivery and Sanofi expects to reach 100 million in its annual production by 2017. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), two-thirds of annual infections occur every year in Asia and about 22 thousand deaths from dengue.
The dengue fever virus is transmitted by mosquito bite and thrives in swamps and marshland. For this reason, the most important step in combating this disease is the elimination of any outbreak of infection. Typically, these are wells or reservoirs of still water. Haemorrhagic fever, the most violent form of the virus, is often fatal. The most common symptoms are fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea and vomiting.
Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi vice president, described the Dengvaxia as "an important step for the prevention of dengue and to public health." The researchers spent 20 years studying dengue (costing 1.5 billion euro), the virus is difficult to codify because it consists of four different strains. This has forced doctors to find a medication that can battle them all. According to the pharmaceutical company’s estimates, sales of the vaccine could turn over one billion in revenue a year.
Clinical tests show that the Dengvaxa can immunize two-thirds of a population from nine years of age, reaching 93% of immunization for the most acute form of the disease. The vaccine also reduces the risk of hospitalization by 80%.
Having long been a tropical disease endemic in only nine countries, dengue fever has spread by globalization and urbanization and is now present in 100 countries. According to the WHO, cases of infection increased by 30 times in the last 50 years.