First-ever dengue fever vaccine gets green light in Mexico

First-ever dengue fever vaccine gets green light in MexicoDengue fever is one of the deadliest virus on Earth, affecting 400 million people per year. But it’s only now that a company will be releasing a vaccine against the disease, after it was cleared for use in Mexico.

“It’s a very important moment in the history of public health,” said Sanofi vaccines division head Olivier Charmeil, who added that the French company’s drug Dengvaxia as the “innovation of the decade.” He believes that this vaccine could be a “blockbuster” and can create more than a billion dollars of revenue for the pharmaceutical company.

Sanofi has been working on the development of Dengvaxia since 1995, having spent more than €1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) in the process. Dengue fever affects 50 to 100 million people a year, according to World Health Organization figures. Although the mortality rate for the disease is lower than some other viruses, at 2.5 percent, the virus can cause an Ebola-like disease called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which has a much higher mortality rate of 20 percent if left untreated.

“We are waiting for more registrations in Asia and Latin America in the coming weeks,” Charmeil confirmed, saying that Sanofi Pasteur has requested authorization to release the dengue vaccine in 20 nations. Currently, several million doses are scheduled to ship out, with a stockpile for the European Union due early next year and one for the United States in 2017. Production is expected to hit 100 million doses in about two years from now.

Based on clinical tests, Dengvaxia is capable of making about two-thirds of people aged nine and above immune to dengue, with that rate climbing to 93 percent for dengue hemorrhagic fever. Hospitalization risk was also shown to decline by 80 percent.