Is there a vaccine for dengue fever?
For many years, specialists and researchers have been committed to finding a dengue vaccine with no success. The first research of dengue vaccine started in 1929 but failed due to lack of the disease pathogenesis and adequate knowledge. Over the years, many drugs for dengue prevention have been developed, but many of them are still under review for approval.
World’s First Dengue Vaccine
However, hope has finally been rekindled after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to give Sanofi Pasteur’s application a chance for their drug Dengvaxia. Dengvaxia is the first vaccine that protects people against dengue although it has multiple controversies.
In October 2018, the company announced that they had received a notice that the regulatory body had decided to give their drug priority; meaning they could have the response in not more than six months.
Dengue Virus in the USA
While multiple cases of the illness have been diagnosed in the USA, mainland, the major concern of dengue vaccine in the USA is in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and some offshore regions.
Sanofi’s regional medical head for North America, Dr. David Greenberg said that the company is excited to bring their drugs into these affected areas in the USA. He added that by so doing, it would help thousands of people who suffer severely, with many of them ending up hospitalized and in worst scenarios lose their lives.
Dengue virus has an impact on global health as 400 million people suffer from the infection every year. It has, therefore, been a health dream for every individual around the world, to find a dengue vaccine. This is in the hope of saving dengue patients from the turmoil they go through in the face of dengue fever epidemic.
What if dengue comes second time?
There are four categories of dengue, number 1 through 4. Infection from one virus does not prevent you from others. In fact, it makes the second infection more severe to the individual a phenomenon known as antibody-dependent enhancement or ADE.
Dengvaxia targets all four stereotypes. It is the first dengue vaccine that has come through the development pipeline. The vaccine is currently licensed in 20 nations, which is great progress. However, it is only available in 10 countries.
In mid-October, a team of European Medicines Agency recommended permitting Dengvaxia for people of age 9-45, who reside in areas where dengue is epidemic, and had suffered from the infection at least one time.
Dengvaxia Vaccine Issue
Despite the excitement, over the solution of dengue fever, Dengvaxia is seen as trouble. Last November, Sanofi announced that the post-research department had learned something that the dengue experts had long-feared; the vaccine was affecting children who had not been infected by the virus before.
The findings led to a huge outcry in the Philippines, where many individuals had been vaccinated through large-scale campaigns. The use of the drug was, therefore, suspended and the overall confidence and reputation of the vaccine in general dropped.
Is Dengvaxia Effective?
The Sanofi data of their clinical data used to bring the drug into the market, showed that children who had been infected by the virus at least once, were protected by the vaccine. Also, the vaccine protected those who had the infection from a severe infection that could lead to hospitalization which is fatal.
Sadly, there was a different story for children who received the vaccine and had never suffered from dengue virus. In this case, the vaccine acted as their first infection. If this group was later contracted by dengue, they were likely to have a severe illness.
Who Can use Dengvaxia?
In light of the new data, an expert panel in charge of advising the World Health Organization on vaccines recommended the drug be used by individuals who had already had an infection. This closed the doors of Dengvaxia of marketing it worldly as a travel vaccine, losing the lucrative market for this type of vaccine.
Sanofi Way Out on Dengvaxia Drug
Many patients of dengue have mild symptoms that could be confused with influenza or other illnesses, while others have no symptoms. This means that nations where dengue virus was common, many individuals would have no records proving they have been infected, hence no knowledge of their status.
Individuals will, therefore, have to be tested before they are vaccinated. However, this is not possible because of the lack of a rapid test that could make it possible to test and cure the disease the same visit. Sanofi is working with other companies to make this possible, but there is no communication on how soon the rapid test kit will be developed, tested and approved.
Greenberg suggested if the FDA approves their vaccine in Puerto Rico, it could be used on individuals who have suffered from dengue before. It could also be used in a two-step process where drawn blood could be tested in a commercial laboratory, and individuals infected could return for the vaccine on a different day.
Although Greenberg said Sanofi will not be disclosing the sales of the company; he, has mentioned that the company’s objective is to protect as many people as they can from the fatal illness.
Dengue Fever is deadly, and it is listed as one of the health hazards of this century by WHO. The symptoms are severe, and getting infected once only puts you in danger of severe illness on a second infection. If you have dengue fever, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to reduce the pain and fever. Avoid using pain killers that can increase your bleeding such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve, others). You may, therefore, need medical support if you are suffering from dengue fever.
Meanwhile Sanofi is working day and night to make adjustments on Dengvaxia to help control dengue fever.