Dengue may soon become a ‘vaccine-preventable’ disease

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Sanofi, the French drug company is currently developing a vaccine against dengue which has proved to be 60% effective in its second large clinical trial, which involved 20,875 children aged 9-16 from the Caribbean and Latin America. The disease commonly known as Dengue fever or break-bone fever owing to the excessive joint pains it causes, is one of the most common mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world and is caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito which carries the virus. The company which has invested about 1.3 billion euros (S$2.1 billion) for developing the vaccine, believes that their vaccine represents a big advance, considering there are no drugs or vaccines available on the market now.

According to Dr. Scott B. Halstead, scientific advisor to the nonprofit Dengue Vaccine Initiative, “It’s certainly not anywhere close to what we had hoped, something that would reach up into the 90s”, but it still appears to prevent severe disease. Also, children who received the vaccine were at an 80% lesser risk of being hospitalized for dengue, compared to children who received placebo.

Meanwhile in Singapore, which is showing an increase in the incidents of dengue fever cases, Parlimentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health (MOH) Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said, the effects of the vaccine of Sanofi was too early to assess and that Phase II trails which started in 2009 were still ongoing.

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