By Benjamin Flowers
The Government of Mexico has approved the use of the first-ever vaccine for dengue fever.
Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) approved the vaccine, Dengvaxia for use in people from 9 to 45, living in areas where dengue is endemic.
Sanofi, the French drug company which manufactures Dengvaxia, will have the vaccine available for private purchase in Mexico as early as 2016, and has also applied for around 20 marketing approvals from countries in Latin America and Asia.
The company announced that it will have two million doses available in 2017, and the capacity to make 100 million doses a year, should the need arise.
“With this first marketing authorization of Dengvaxia, we have achieved our goal of making dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease,” said Olivier Brandicourt, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi.
Dengvaxia, a live virus vaccine, works against all four subtypes of dengue. The vaccine is comprised of an attenuated yellow fever virus genetically engineered to produce proteins from the dengue virus and stimulate the body’s immune system to make antibodies to those proteins.
In its clinical trials, Dengvaxia, reduced the risk of developing dengue by about 60 percent. While some experts have contested that it has less than the desired effect, many agree that with no existing treatment for dengue fever, 60 percent is sufficient.
The trials showed that the vaccine tends to be least effective in children younger than 9, particularly those younger than 6, and may even increase their risk of having more severe onsets of dengue later in life, according to a longer term follow-up from the clinical trials.
Conservative estimates from pharmaceutical companies are that between 50-100 million people contract dengue every year.