Dengue is one of the world’s most deadly diseases because of the rate at which it spreads. It is caused because of the viruses that are transmitted to the person via mosquito bites. The symptoms of this fever involve sudden high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and skin rash (which appears two to five days after the onset of the fever).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease. Each year, 400 million people are infected with dengue, and the disease is endemic in more than 100 countries. In the past year itself, nearly 85,000 dengue cases were reported from across India. Hence, the news that the world’s first approved dengue vaccination has been unveiled is an achievement for the global community.
Mexico has become the first country in the world that has approved a vaccine against dengue fever. This vaccine has been manufactured by Sanofi, which is a French pharmaceutical giant. This company has requested approval for the vaccine across 20 countries in Asia and Latin America. They are certain that Dengvaxia, which is the name of this vaccine, will be approved by all 20 countries. Approval is sought in these countries first because these are the regions where dengue is most widespread. Countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen a great increase in the spread of dengue. Our very own capital, New Delhi, saw one of the worst dengue outbreaks recently.
The approval was given to Dengavaxia, by the Mexican regulators, based on a clinical development program. This program involved over 40,000 people from 15 countries of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, geographical settings, socio-economic settings, and epidemiological settings. It was found that there was an 80% reduction in the risk of hospitalization, and the possibility of developing the most severe form of the disease was lowered by 93%
Moreover, this means of prevention against dengue applies to all four dengue virus serotypes as the World Health Organisation has categorized them. However, this vaccine is only applicable for patients who are between the age of 5 to 9 years of age. These patients also need to be living in the areas where the disease is endemic. In other words, the vaccine doesn’t have the approval to be used on young children and tourists. Both of these sections of the population have a high risk of contracting dengue.
A statement has been issued, saying that: “This vaccine can prevent more than 8,000 hospitalizations, 104 deaths annually, and save 1.1 billion pesos ($64 million) each year in reduced costs tied to medical attention.”
The price of this drug has not been decided yet; however, it can generate one billion a year as revenue. Olivier Charmeil, the head of the company’s vaccine division, has said: “It’s a crucial moment in the history of public health.” He also went on to say that it was the “innovation of the decade.”
Currently, several million doses of the vaccine are ready to be shipped. Sanofi expects that the annual production will reach 100 million by 2017. Stock for the European Union will be shipped early next year, and it will be shipped to the United States a year after that.
The research and development work took Sanofi 20 years, and it cost them more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion). All this effort and money will pay off when the entire world would protect itself against dengue.