Mexico just approved the world’s first vaccine to fight dengue. The country has cleared the vaccine for public trials and offered hope to millions of people across the world. Although the line of treatment offers a relatively modest success rate, it does offer protection against the most extreme and life-threatening form of the disease.
A Mexican health ministry official confirmed the world’s first dengue vaccine has won regulatory approval in the country. The vaccine will combat one of the fastest-growing mosquito-borne diseases the developing world is facing today. Mexico’s federal medical safety agency confirmed that the vaccine has already undergone testing on over 29,000 patients across the world. The vaccine doesn’t offer complete protection, however, the agency added that the vaccine’s manufacturer had proved its safety and effectiveness.
While the health ministry didn’t confirm the name of the dengue vaccine, France-based Sanofi Pasteur identified the vaccine as Dengvaxia, reported Fox News.
It took the company about 20 years to develop a reliable vaccine to combat dengue, shared Olivier Charmeil, head of the company’s vaccines division.
“It’s a very important moment in the history of public health.”
Incidentally, the company had sought regulatory approval in 20 countries across Asia and Latin America. However, it was Mexico that became the first country to approve the vaccine, said the health ministry in a statement.
“With this decision, Mexico moves ahead of all other countries, including France, to tackle the spread of this virus”
Health officials stated the vaccine can be administered to people ranging from ages 9 to 45. The country will first deploy kits in areas where the disease is endemic. Reports indicate about 40,000 people will receive the treatment in Mexico in the initial phase.
It is understandable that Mexico jumped at the opportunity to approve a vaccine to fight dengue. While more than 400 million people across the world contract dengue each year, according to World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is a leading cause of hospital admissions in most Latin American and Asian countries. It is a worrying fact that majority of the victims are children. Mexico hopes the vaccine could prevent 8,000 hospitalizations and 104 deaths per year. The fact that the Mexico was actively involved in the development of the vaccine since 2006 allowed the country to be the first one, to give the drug a green signal.
The vaccine is designed to prevent four types of dengue virus currently circulating in the world, confirmed Sanofi. According to WHO, the vaccine has an average rate of effectiveness of about 61 percent in protecting people against the four strains of dengue. According to the manufacturer, new cases of dengue fell by two-thirds. The New England Journal of Medicine put forth similar numbers (65.6 percent). Encouragingly, the vaccine can reduce the risk of hospitalization by 80 percent, reported the Phuket News.
Needless to say, such numbers are quite low and mean that more than a third of those administered the vaccine still contracted dengue. In comparison, vaccines for measles and polio have a 95 percent average effectiveness. Despite the relatively modest effectiveness, the vaccine does offer protection against the most lethal and life-threatening form of dengue.
The dengue hemorrhagic fever is known to cause internal bleeding, shock, organ failure, and death, but it occurs in people who have already been affected by one of the strains and suffer a secondary infection by a different strain. This explains why Mexico is planning to send kits to regions where exposure rates to at least one strain were 60 percent or more.
Owing to its diverse strains, scientists have been unable to come up with a single vaccine that effectively combated all of them at once. Thanks to Sanofi and Mexico, millions can now be vaccinated against a commonly occurring, but quite dangerous disease.
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