A vaccine that prevents dengue is now available and Filipinos will get the first chance to try it.
Medical societies on Thursday launched Dengvaxia, which was developed and manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.
“Our country has been in the [forefront]of clinical development of this dengue vaccine because we are the only country that has reached the three phases of clinical development. Phases 1, 2 and 3 were conducted in the Philippines,” Rose Capeding, a doctor who heads the Department of Microbiology at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, said.
The health breakthrough is the culmination of more than two decades of scientific innovation, collaboration and research involving 25 clinical trials among more than 14,000 individuals in 15 countries.
The vaccine provides protection from four dengue strains. It has proven effective in preventing nine out of 10 severe dengue and eight out of 10 hospitalizations among those aged nine to 45.
Sally Gatchalian, who is president of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines, noted that the cost of the vaccine “is very affordable and reasonable.”
“The first thing we need to understand and realize is that dengue is a devastating disease.
It does not have only medical burden but there is economic burden, there’s social burden, emotional and psychological stress, and trauma not only to the patients but the whole family as well,” Gatchalian said.
Cecilia Montalban, president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, noted that more than 110,000 Filipinos get sick of dengue annually. The government spends P16.7 billion every year due to the viral infection.
In the last 50 years, the mosquito-borne disease has spread to 128 countries where around 3.9 billion people live. Dengue incidence has increased 30-fold, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Experts said that the vaccine is expected to reduce dengue mortality.
“Our aim is to protect our patients as much as possible. We don’t want them to be hospitalized. Prevention is now available and that is the most important thing. We suggest and recommend that you go visit a physician, have yourself and your children assessed and evaluated to get the vaccine,” Gatchalian said.