Dengvaxia®, a vaccine for Dengue has been granted marketing approval in Europe. Dengvaxia is made by Sanofi, a French biopharmaceutical company. Dengvaxia will be available in Europe only to at-risk people who are between 9-45 years of age and who have had a previous Dengue infection. Dengvaxia has previously been approved for use in 20 countries in Asia and Latin America. The vaccine has currently not received approval in the US and India.
Dengue is a viral infection that is spread by mosquitos. Dengue causes flu-like symptoms of high fever accompanied by severe joint-pain. Dengue can worsen into hemorrhagic fever requiring hospitalization and special care.
About half of the world population is at risk of Dengue but there is no specific treatment available yet for Dengue. The incidents of Dengue have grown dramatically over the world in the last few years and effective treatment options against Dengue are severely required. As per the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India, there were 188,401 reported cases of Dengue with 325 deaths in India in 2017.
When first introduced, it was found that Dengvaxia® vaccine increased the risk of severe Dengue and hospitalizations in patients who had never had a prior Dengue infection. This was after the vaccine was used in over 700,000 people in the Philippines causing a major health controversy. This led the WHO to issue an update to its guidelines for the use of this vaccine in December 2017.
As per the latest WHO guidelines Dengvaxia is effective in preventing Dengue. The effectiveness is significantly better in patients who have been infected against Dengue before and hence current guidelines indicate the vaccine to be used in preventing a second Dengue infection.