Dengvaxia: Boon for Dengue

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The recent outbreak of Dengue in Asia has brought forward the threat of mosquito bite into the spotlight again. Dengue is a kind of viral infection caused by mosquito bite, and the disease has now become a threat to about 390 million people, as these many are estimated to be infected each year. This incidence of infection in recent decades has soared and the world has been a witness to a great number of deaths globally. Asia is emerging to be the most impacted region with about 75% of the global burden of dengue.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the number of the cases in Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and India has increased alarmingly, as compared to what it was two years ago. However, there is hope for its effective treatment and cure, as Sanofi Pasteur has successfully developed a vaccine after investing approximately 20 years in R&D. Sanofi Pasteur is the first company to come up with dengue vaccine named as “Dengvaxia”. According to Sanofi, they want to make the drug available to everyone, particularly to the low income countries. For this they have joined hands with a number of International Organizations like World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Red Cross.

So far, the drug has got market approval in 11 countries, including Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Guatemala, Peru, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore; Mexico is the one to become the first country to license it. The company is now waiting for its approval from the Indian government which may take some more time as the government has asked to conduct more trials before granting permission.

Neil Ferguson, Director of the MRC center for Outbreak Analysis and Modeling at Imperial College London, conducted a study that used the previous data to determine its effect in various settings found out that the vaccine may not work properly in areas where there is low prevalence of dengue; the WHO has thus not recommended countries to implement a national vaccination program using Dengvaxia. Companies like Sun Pharma, Takeda and Butantan Institute, Brazil are also working on dengue vaccine and we can expect a more efficacy from their products.

Insight by:
Megha Khandelwal
Associate Analyst