Finally. We have another weapon against a possibliy fatal disease.
According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of the 400 million people who are infected by dengue fever worldwide are in Asia. Now, Filipinos will finally have a first-line of defense against dengue that has claimed many lives, mostly children.
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin confirmed that she has already given the go-signal for the release of Dengvaxia in the country after it passed stringent tests conducted by the FDA. The new vaccine is manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur. Just two weeks ago, it was approved for public use in Mexico as they became the first country in the world to give it an all-clear. The Philippines is the first Asian country to do so.
According to Sanofi company president Olivier Charmeil, "Approval of the first dengue vaccine in Asia, which bears 70% of global disease burden, is a major milestone in dengue prevention and public health.”
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Dengvaxia will be given to patients ages nine to 45, and will protect them from four strains of dengue. Based on the results of the clinical trials, the vaccine is more effective when given within that age frame. It helps reduce the risk of hospitalization by 80 percent, as well as reducing the possibility of developing a more severe form of the disease, characterized by severe internal bleeding, by 93 percent. In fact, Sanofi conducted clinical trials here in the Philippines that gave promising results.
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The president of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, Dr. May Book Montellano, said in an interview with CNN Philippines, “Prevention of dengue is an urgent and growing medical priority in the Philippines.” She added that vaccination is regarded as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the spread of infectious diseases like dengue. The DOH is looking to have it by the end of the year, and is seriously considering to include the vaccine as a PhilHealth benefit, Garin said in an interview with Inquirer.net.
Before the vaccine, there was no fool-proof way to prevent dengue. A previous infection can give a person immunity but only for the same strain he was infected with. However, being infected once by dengue ups the risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever when infected with a different strain.
Making sure the breeding grounds of these dengue-carrying mosquitos are eliminated still plays a vital part in fighting dengue. Also, anti-mosquito products that protect young kids from moswuito bites are still essential in preventing younger kids from getting the disease.
Sources: December 23, 2o15. "PH approves first anti-dengue vaccine in Asia" (cnnphilippines.com) December 23, 2015. "Anti-dengue vaccine sold in PH by year-end" (inquirer.net) December 23, 2015. "Philippines first Asian country to clear dengue vaccine" (rappler.com)