Dengue vaccine out in PH by July 2015

MANILA, Philippines – A dengue vaccine tested in the Philippines and 4 other Asian countries showed promising overall efficacy and will be available in the health department’s vaccine program by July 2015.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona disclosed this on Tuesday, July 15, as the rainy season continues in the country.

"Maglalaan tayo ng budget para maisali natin itong vaccine na ito sa ating vaccination program next year,” he said. (We will allot a budget to include this vaccine in our vaccination program next year.)

The vaccine called CYD-TDV was devised by the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur. It produced lukewarm results two years ago, but after wider trials has now shown 56.5% protection against dengue. (READ: Test vaccine for dengue seen as promising)

"This candidate vaccine has the potential to have a significant impact on public health in view of the high disease burden in endemic countries," said Maria Rosario Capeding from the Philippines' Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Dengue, a disease common in tropical and sub-tropical countries in the world, is transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). (READ: Crowdsourcing dengue alert)

Dengue fever is potentially fatal and mainly affects children.

Vaccine is 'best we have'

The study involved 10,275 children aged 2 to 14 years old from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. About 3,500 of them came from the Philippines.

The results of the study done over a 25-month observation period showed that 3 doses of CYD-TDV reduced the possibility of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever by 88.5%. The risk of hospitalization due to dengue was also reduced by 67%.

“These results are of great public health importance due to the high incidence of dengue and its disruptive effect on the country’s health system,” Ona said in a separate statement.

The number of dengue cases is expected to increase in the next few months, although the Department of Health reported fewer dengue cases from January to July 2, 2014 than during the same period in 2013. (READ: DOH warns public of common diseases during rainy season)

A total of 31,088 cases were reported as of July 2, 2014, a big decrease from 2013’s 79,274 cases. The number of dengue-related deaths also decreased from 307 to 134.

Most of the cases were reported in Eastern Visayas, Soccksargen, Northern Mindanao, Calabarzon, and the region of Davao.

Ona said the vaccine should significantly contribute to achieving WHO’s Global Strategy for Dengue Prevention and Control Goals: 50% mortality reduction and 25% morbidity reduction by year 2020.

A similar study will be performed in 5 Latin American countries: Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Peru, and Colombia.

In a commentary, Annelies Wilder-Smith, a professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said a vaccine that halved annual cases of dengue "would present a significant public health benefit" but was not a magic bullet.

"For the moment, the CYD-TDV vaccine is the best we have; however, with 56% efficacy it will never be a single solution," Wilder-Smith said. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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