Mexico Approves The World’s First Dengue Fever Vaccine

The first-ever vaccine for dengue fever — a viral illness spread by mosquitoes that sickens up to 400 million people worldwide each year — has been approved for use in Mexico.

In an announcement Wednesday, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi said the vaccine, called Dengvaxia, was developed over two decades and underwent testing on 29,000 patients.

Mexican health authorities have approved the vaccine to prevent all four dengue virus strains in children and adults ages 9 to 45 who live in areas where the disease is endemic, according to a release.

“We are making dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease,” Olivier Charmeil, executive vice president for vaccines at Sanofi, said in an interview with the New York Times.

Mexico’s federal medical safety agency reportedly said the vaccine could help prevent 104 deaths and 8,000 hospital admissions a year, as well as save about $65 million in annual health expenditures.

“Dengue is a growing health threat in Mexico and many other tropical and subtropical countries in Latin America and Asia,” José Luis Arredondo García, associate director of clinical research at Mexico’s National Institute of Pediatrics, said in the release. “The first vaccine approved to prevent dengue fever is a major innovation and a public health breakthrough.”

In trials, Dengvaxia had an average rate of effectiveness of about 60.8 percent in protecting against the four strains of dengue currently circulating around the world. As the Associated Press notes, this is “relatively low for a vaccine,” as those for measles and polio, for example, have effectiveness rates of more than 95 percent.

But the vaccine does do better protecting against the severe form of dengue fever known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal if left untreated. Sanofi said in its release that —> Read More