Mexico approves the first preventive vaccine against dengue

Mexico, one of the countries where dengue infection is endemic, just given the green light to the first preventative vaccine against infection that reaches the market. As announced by its manufacturer, the French group Sanofi Pasteur, another 20 countries in Asia and Latin America might follow the suit in the coming months.

Mexico has authorized Dengvaxia as preventive treatment of this mosquito-borne infection for people from nine to 45 who live in endemic areas. For the moment, therefore, the treatment may not be used in children under nine years (the main victims of this disease) or tourists traveling to risk areas.

It is estimated that each year 400 million people worldwide are infected with this disease caused by four different virus serotypes. The new vaccine, which could be authorized in 20 other countries of Asia and Latin America before the end of the year, is directed against the four subtypes.

Sanofi Pasteur has announced that it has the approval of the Mexican authorities to begin marketing the vaccine, probably next January. As highlighted in its analysis of this news the Financial Times, Sanofi has chosen to market the therapy in a dengue endemic country like Mexico, leaving the first European countries to more revenue later, an unusual move for the pharmaceutical sector.

Among the following countries where French group intends to introduce the vaccine, Olivier Charmeil (responsible for its vaccines division) mentioned Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Although the price of the vaccine is unclear, analysts predict profits of one billion euros annually to the manufacturer, whose shares have risen 7.2% after the news.

Dengue is a disease like the flu, now endemic in more than 100 countries worldwide. It mainly affects children and an estimated 2.5 %% of sufferers die as a result of the most severe form of the infection, a type of hemorrhagic fever. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 40% of the world population is at risk of contracting dengue, equivalent to 3.900 million people.

At present there is no specific treatment for this disease, and there were high hopes for the development of a preventive vaccine, especially to protect children under five years (which are the most affected). In addition to the Sanofi vaccine, there are other candidates in various stages of development (II and III mainly) also have the support of the WHO.

The approval has been obtained based on a two-year study with 40,000 individuals from 15 different countries. People treated with Dengvaxia had a 80% lower risk of hospitalization due to dengue and 93% less likely to progress to the hemorrhagic form and more severe infection.

The objective of WHO is to reduce 25% of new cases and deaths from dengue half 2020.