Dengue is one of the deadliest mosquito-borne diseases that kills 22,000 people a year, according to the World Health Organization. It affects more than 400 million people worldwide, mainly those in urban areas in the tropical and sub-tropical climates.
In the Philippines, where dengue first appeared in 1953, dengue cases are on a 23.5 percent rise, resulting in over 90,000 cases this year. Last September's data shows that 269 people reportedly died due to the disease this year, slightly lower than last year's 316.
Fortunately, a dengue vaccine has finally been developed, and it won regulatory approval in Mexico just this week! This paves the way for the world's first immunization program against the disease. Not to mention a "very important moment in the history of public health," as stated by Olivier Charmeil, the head of Sanofi Vaccines Division, the French pharmaceutical company that developed the vaccine for 20 years.
The vaccine, branded Dengvaxia, is designed to prevent four types of dengue virus. It's most effective in protecting people against severe dengue (the fatal one), hence preventing 93 percent of cases and reducing hospitalizations by 80 percent. It'll be available for children over 9 years old and adults under 49 who live in dengue-prone areas.
Mexico is the first country to approve the use of Dengvaxia. Some 40,000 Mexicans will receive the treatment in an initial phase. Sanofi has filed for the vaccine's approval in 20 countries where dengue is prevalent, and is expecting to receive approval in the coming weeks. We're hoping other countries like the Philippines will launch vaccination campaigns soon.
As for the cost of the vaccine, there's no word on it yet. The Mexican government and Sanofi have yet to agree on a price (the company spent $1.6 billion in developing and creating treatment).
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