Dengue fever is rampant in Asian and Latin American countries such as the Philippines and Brazil. This potent viral disease has caused many hospitalizations across the globe as the number of cases has grown dramatically over the past years.
Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company has released the first vaccine to curb Dengue infections. Called the Dengvaxia vaccine, it promises to provide protection from all four dengue strains. The vaccine was recommended for individuals between the ages of 9 and 45 in high-risk countries.
However, the said vaccine manufacturer admitted that the world's first dengue vaccine may pose harmful effects.
The vaccine could lead to severe disease when it’s administered to people who were not previously infected with the dengue virus.
The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines has vaccinated more than 700,000 children under a school immunization program. The government has spent about 3.5 billion Philippine pesos ($69,580,000) to purchase the said vaccine.
A total of 733,713 children received the vaccine, but the health department says 90 percent of them have had dengue in the past.
So far, the children who were given the vaccines are from the Regions 3, 4-A and the National Capital Region.
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has asked the Dengue Technical and Management Committee to have a meeting with an expert panel to plan for an action regarding the vaccination issue.
“The safety of the children vaccinated is paramount, and the Health Department will need to do surveillance of those given Dengvaxia with no prior infection. It’s really a big task.”
The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the administration of the dengue vaccine in 2015.
Sanofi released a report asking health authorities to update the provided information for the doctors and patients about Dengvaxia. The request came after the company’s examination of patient data over six years. The researchers concluded that despite the fact that the vaccine protects people against the infection if they’ve already been infected in the past, it’s another story for those who never had the virus.
Dr. Su-Peing Ng, Global Medical Head of Sanofi Pasteur, said:
“These findings highlight the complex nature of dengue infection. We are working with health authorities to ensure that prescribers, vaccinators, and patients are fully informed of the new findings, with the goal of enhancing the impact of Dengvaxia in dengue-endemic countries.”
The drug company has a new recommendation regarding vaccine administration.
The researchers now propose that physicians should examine or assess the likelihood of a previous dengue infection in a patient first before administering the vaccine. Also, the drug company reiterated that the vaccine should also be recommended when the potential benefits will outweigh the possible health risks of vaccination.
That is if the patient lives in countries plagued with surging dengue cases, especially if more cases of dengue infection progress into the potentially-fatal complication of the disease called Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
Now, DOH is calling on parents and residents to follow the usual dengue preventive measures approved in the past.
The measures include eradicating the possible breeding grounds of mosquitoes, using mosquito nets and repellents, mosquito fogging and seeking immediate medical attention for fever lasting more than two days.
Dengue Fever is a viral disease characterized by a flu-like illness that could progress into a life-threatening complication called severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever. This complication is the leading cause of serious disease among children.
The virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
This is the same species responsible for other mosquito-borne diseases such as Yellow fever, Zika virus infection and Chikungunya.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 390 million dengue cases each year, wherein approximately 96 million cases have shown severe manifestations.
Today, recent research has shown that an estimated 3.9 billion people from 128 countries are now at risk of acquiring the mosquito-borne infection.
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