After extensive clinical trials conducted in order to prove its effectiveness, the Dengvaxia dengue fever vaccine was approved in the Philippines. This vaccine lowers the chance of contracting the disease by 70% and in the case of dengue hemorrhagic fever, the immunisation reaches a staggering 93% level.
Even if its use does not include the ones most vulnerable towards this disease, very young children, it still marks itself as a massive milestone in the fight with the illness. Up to this point, dengue fever has become the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease on Earth, with over 400 million diagnostics annually.
Dengue fever is endemic to only nine countries, but with the steady growth of urbanization and jet travels, it has managed to spread more widely than its previous tropical habitat. Its symptoms consist of abdominal pain, nose bleeds, headaches, skin rashes and severe muscle and joint pain.
Up to this point, only Philippines and Mexico have approved vaccination towards dengue fever, but India is currently considering adding this form of treatment for its patients as well. The WHO expects the mortality rate to decrease by 50% until 2020 if this vaccine is allowed to be used globally.
The prevention of dengue fever infection has become an increasingly urgent matter. The disease has suffered from a staggering 3000% increase in cases over the past 50 years and it shows no signs of stopping what-so-ever. If one would add the increased temperatures caused by climate change, these numbers will grow even more significantly in the near future if steps towards public immunization aren’t taken.
The French company Sanofi has already created the first batch for use in the Philippines, but patients will have to wait almost a full month before these doses get distributed. The vaccination capacity is hoped to reach around 100 million vaccines annually, only at the production site in France, with more sites being added in order to satisfy the massive demand.
The research towards creating this vaccine has been underway for over 20 years and has cost the company around $1.6 billion in research funds and clinical trials. But this cost will be compensated, with spokespersons from the company claiming that the annual profit from selling the vaccine will reach an average of $1 billion.
In order for the effectiveness of the vaccine to be proven, clinical trials were conducted in both urban and rural areas across Asia. Other countries besides the Philippines participated in the third trial phase that proved the safety and efficacy of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Although the Dengvaxia dengue fever vaccine was approved in the Philippines, the country has to wait for vaccine prequalification guideline tests conducted by the WHO before massive funding can be made towards procurement. Hopefully, with more countries opting for this vaccine, the ever-expanding dengue fever may one day be completely erased. Only time will tell if releasing this vaccine to the general public will have the expected large impact towards combating this disease or not.