FIRST DENGUE VACCINE GOES UNDER FINAL TEST IN PHILIPPINES
This is because if all goes well in the final test being done here in the Philippines, the world will finally have its first effectivevaccine against dengue no later than 2014.
There is currently no treatment, cure orvaccine for dengue.
The dengue fever vaccine, developed by France’s Sanofi Pasteur, is the first to undergo the advanced “Phase III” clinical trial, the final hurdle before it becomes available to the public.
The clinical trial aims to establish the efficacy of the vaccine. While the test is scheduled to last four years, the trial may be cut short especially if no dangerous side effects are detected or if the authorities and regulatory bodies including the World Health Organization and the United States Food and Drug Administration decide to fast track approval.
“Researchers worldwide have been working on a dengue vaccine for almost 60 years and for the first time, we have a potential candidate that actually shows great promise. The vaccine is important considering that while the dengue fever death toll is relatively small (of the current 27,000 hospitalized, 172 died already), most victims involve infants and young children,” says Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding, head of the Dengue Study Group that supervises the dengue vaccine clinical trial being done in San Pablo, Laguna and very soon in the province of Cebu.
Capeding explains that numerous obstacles have hindered scientists from finally coming up with an effective dengue fever vaccine. First, it could not be tested on animals—the virus only infects humans.
Second, since the dengue virus has four strains, the vaccine that must be developed should induce immune responses against all four types of dengue virus.
“Based on the initial results observed from the 2,000 children in Laguna (ages 2 to 14) since last month, the vaccine is proving to be effective as well as safe. The result validates the report coming from Thailand where 4,000 children are being evaluated since 2009,” Capeding reports.
San Pablo and Cebu was chosen because these two areas have an established monitoring and evaluation system that is required in the monitoring of the vaccine.
The Philippines and Thailand share a common history when it comes to dengue because it was in these two countries where the dengue hemorrhagic fever, a lethal complication of dengue fever, was first reported and identified in the 1950s.
Fifty-eight years later, dengue fever has become a major international public health concern considering that majority of those affected are children ages between one and 10 years old.