First dengue vaccine available from this week

Studies have shown that, overall, the Dengvaxia vaccine is effective at reducing dengue by 60 per cent, and reducing severe dengue by 84 per cent.
Studies have shown that, overall, the Dengvaxia vaccine is effective at reducing dengue by 60 per cent, and reducing severe dengue by 84 per cent.PHOTO: ST FILE

While it protects against all 4 dengue strains, it is less effective against common strains here

The world's first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, will be commercially available in Singapore starting this week, delegates attending a dengue summit in Manila told The Straits Times last Friday.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) approved its use for patients here aged 12 to 45 last October, following a seven-month expedited review of its potential benefits and risks.

The HSA's decision was based on 24 clinical studies, involving 41,000 people, done by manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur.

Studies have shown that, overall, the vaccine is effective at reducing dengue by 60 per cent, and reducing severe dengue by 84 per cent.

However, it is much less effective against the two dengue strains that are most common in Singapore.

The Ministry of Health said last October that it will neither provide subsidies nor allow the use of Medisave for the vaccine as it "would not be a clinically and cost-effective means to tackling dengue infection in Singapore".

The Ministry of Health said last October that it will neither provide subsidies nor allow the use of Medisave for the vaccine as it "would not be a clinically and cost-effective means to tackling dengue infection in Singapore".

While the vaccine protects against all four dengue strains, clinical trials have shown that it is most effective against Den 3 and Den 4, while the common strains circulating here are Den 1 and Den 2.

According to the World Health Organisation, it provides 72 to 77 per cent protection against Den 3 and Den 4, but only 43 to 55 per cent protection against Den 1 and Den 2.

 

However, it is better at preventing severe illness when someone is infected, with 80 per cent protection across the four dengue serotypes.

The vaccine is also best for people who have had a previous dengue infection, as it acts much like a booster shot.

It is for patients aged nine to 45 internationally, and those aged 12 to 45 here, because it is less effective in children and older people.

Those who want the vaccine need to get three doses, six months apart. It is not known definitively how long the vaccine will be effective. However, current data shows that it should be effective for four years.

Dengue rates are currently low, with fewer than 600 people infected since the start of the year. Last week, 54 people were diagnosed with the disease.

Last year, more than 13,000 people were infected, nine died, and more than 2,000 ended up in hospital.

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•Additional reporting by Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'First dengue vaccine available from this week'. Print Edition | Subscribe