Health officials in Mexico approved the first dengue virus vaccine. Based on global clinical tests conducted in 15 countries involving more than 40,000 participants, the vaccine reduced hospitalization risk by 80 percent.
The vaccine also lowered the probability of developing the illness' gravest, hemorrhagic form by 93 percent. The deadly dengue virus attacks 100 million people around the world annually, with concentrated cases in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
France-based Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of pharmaceutical company Sanofi, announced the approval of Dengvaxia, the world's first dengue vaccine. Health officials from the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) in Mexico said the vaccine is targeted for patients 9 to 45 years old. Moreover, the vaccine will be administered in areas where the dengue virus is widespread.
"Dengvaxia will be a critical addition to the integrated dengue prevention and control efforts," said José Luis Arredondo García, the associate director of clinical research in Mexico's National Institute of Pediatrics. García added that Dengvaxia would be vital in boosting the current community initiatives to fight dengue.
Sanofi said Dengvaxia is currently undergoing review processes in other countries where dengue is prevalent. Dengue Vaccine Initiative director Dr. In-Kyu Yoon said that Dengvaxia has the potential to create significant impacts on public health. However, Sanofi has yet to announce Dengvaxia's cost per vial.
Pan American Health Organizations' immunization program chief Dr. Cuauhtémoc Ruiz-Matus added that the vaccine's widespread usage will highly depend on the cost-benefit breakdown. Countries where dengue is endemic would have to analyze various treatments and preventive measures and compare these with the possible cost of Dengvaxia. To date, there are around five other dengue vaccines in development.
COFEPRIS said the dengue vaccine could help stop 8,000 hospital admittances and 104 deaths in Mexico. The health agency added that the vaccine could save the government around $65 million annually in health-related expenses.
Dengue symptoms include severe pain in the joints and muscles and high fever. Currently, there is no specific treatment for dengue.