PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Dengue could soon be a thing of the past. A dengue vaccine is as good as ready.
After over 20 years of intensive research, a French pharmaceutical company has announced that its dengue vaccine can reduce dengue haemorrhagic fever cases by 88.5 per cent.
The vaccine is also said to be able to decrease the risk of hospitalisation due to dengue by two-thirds.
Those taking the vaccine will be protected against all four common dengue virus serotypes, with its protective effects ranging from 34.7 per cent to 72.4 per cent, depending on the serotype.
These were the latest results released on Thursday from Sanofi Pasteur's Phase III clinical trials on its dengue vaccine conducted in South-east Asia in 2011-2013.
It had been reported in April that the vaccine reduced the risk of dengue in 56 per cent of cases involving children aged two to 14 who received the vaccine in three injections spaced six months apart.
Sanofi Pasteur reported that the vaccine was found to be safe with no serious side effects.
Speaking at an online press conference from Manila, Sanofi Pasteur's dengue vaccine research head Nicholas Jackson said: "To put this into perspective, our vaccine has the potential - when licensed and approved with the appropriate coverage - to halve the 50 to 100 million estimated cases of infections a year, and nearly eliminate the estimated 500,000 cases that will develop the severe form of the disease."
Sanofi Pasteur dengue vaccine head Guillaume Leroy said the company would start applying for licensing by early next year.
"To complement our Phase III results in Asia, a second large-scale efficacy trial is currently ongoing in Latin America, involving more than 20,000 volunteers, which will provide additional information to submit our licensure in early 2015," he says.
He added that the company's production site in Lyons had been producing the vaccine since last year, and would be able to supply 100 million doses of vaccine a year.
According to Leroy, the price of the vaccine would only be determined after discussions with the World Health Organisation and the countries interested in purchasing it, though he said Sanofi Pasteur intended to make it available first in countries suffering the most from dengue.
The study's principal investigator, Dr Maria Rosario Capeding from the Philippines' Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, noted that Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam - the five countries involved in the clinical trial - account for about 70 per cent of dengue cases worldwide.
Ipoh Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital's paediatric department head Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS, one of the investigators for the Malaysian branch of the trial said a nine-in-10 chance of protection against dengue haemorrhagic fever is the most exciting result from the clinical trial.