Dengue vaccine approved for use in Mexico, Brazil and Philippines

Scientific American recently reported that the three countries most affected by dengue fever have approved the use of the first vaccine against this affliction. Officials from Mexico, Philippines and Brazil hope that this will curb the nearly 400 million new infections each year, 22,000 of which result in death.

Dengue symptoms include fever (sometimes as high as 105°F/40°C), pain in muscles, bones and joints, headaches, nose and gum bleeds and other similarly pleasant manifestation. The disease is caused by a virus which spreads through mosquito-bites and is closely related to the Zika virus. It emerged as a worldwide problem in the 1950s and up to now, apart from trying to keep the insects at bay, there was not much people could do to avoid infection.

The countries and areas at risk of dengue transmission are shaded in orange, and the geographical extension of dengue is indicated in red. Data are from the World Health Organization, 2007.
Image via nature

Although dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States, it is endemic in many parts of the world. Clocking in at a staggering 400 million new infections per year, an efficient vaccine for dengue could make a huge difference in the livelihood of those living in high-risk areas.

Enter Sanofi. While it’s not 100 percent effective against dengue infection, trials show that it reduces the chances of contracting the virus from infected mosquitoes by 60 percent (in patients over the age of 9.)

But, more importantly, the drug is 95.5 percent effective in treating dengue hemorrhagic fever, a deadly form of the disease that affects an estimated 500,000 people each year. Sanofi has the potential to drastically reduce incidents of DHF, saving countless lives.

Experts project the first Sanofi inoculations in Brazil, the Philippines and Mexico will take place this year, after each country completes negotiations with Sanofi’s parent company. The World Health Organization will examine the vaccine in April before making global recommendations.

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