The rise in dengue fever cases this 2014 has caused much alarm to the Filipinos. Local and international health organizations have already cited dengue fever as a major public health problem in the Asia-Pacific. However, no vaccines have been successful in effectively immunizing the large communities affected. But as scientists continue to see exponential growths in the percentage of people affected by the virus, it is now more than ever that we need to produce a solution more potent that just medicine for fever – we need a vaccine.
Dengue fever is becoming a potent killer in the Asia Pacific. Fortunately, there are now plenty of efforts to cut the fangs of the virus – most notably, that of French drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur’s efforts in developing a vaccine. Sanofi has been collaborating with the Communicable Disease Center in Singapore and the Pasteur Institute in Vietnam to set off clinical testing for both children and adults in the region.
According to Sanofi, after the late stages of clinical testing in South East Asia (Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam) the vaccine has reduced the incidence of dengue by 56%. Though they expected the numbers to be higher, scientists are not fazed because the drug could still be developed for maximum effectiveness. A spokesman of Sanofi even concludes that because there is really no vaccine for dengue yet, Sanofi’s product might still be helpful to the largely affected countries. After all, “56% has to be compared to zero today.”
Sanofi Pasteur’s candidate vaccine against dengue fever is the first vaccine to reach phase 3 of clinical development. It is in fact considered two to three years ahead of its peers in clinical research for a vaccine against dengue. It is administered by injecting the patient with the vaccine 3 times a year. However, the company is working on a vaccine that only has to be administered once – this is precluded by that fact that in countries with poorer health care systems, it has been difficult to get people to come for 3 injections – most recipients fail to return after the first.
Dengue fever, also called breakbone fever, has affected an average of 1.8 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region according to the statistics of 2009. It is only a safe call to say that the figure has since then increased this 2014.
Dengue fever occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical countries, but the scope continues to expand each year. The virus is carried by mosquitoes through their bites. And though it is also a solution to eliminate mosquitoes through pest control, medical prevention is also a necessity. “Controlling the mosquitoes that transmit dengue is necessary but not sufficient to fight against the disease. A safe and effective vaccine has been long awaited to prevent dengue epidemics,” said Professor Leo Yee Sin, director of the Communicable Disease Center in Singapore.
Though Sanofi Pasteur’s candidate vaccine is promising, they have yet to get their product approved by the proper medical institutions before we see it in the approved list of drugstores in the Philippines. As of now, we have to continue being mindful of our surroundings and not contribute to the proliferation of the dengue carriers if we are to prevent cases from rising. Prevention is always better than cure.
When do you think we’ll have a truly effective vaccine against dengue? Any other comments? Sound off on the comment section below.