Dengue vaccine likely next year

The Aedes aegypti mosquito which is more likely to spread the dengue virus.
PHOTO: Dengue vaccine likely next year

A dengue vaccine is expected to hit the shelves next year, after trials found that it is 56 per cent effective.

The number of cases of the dangerous mosquito-borne disease has soared in Singapore in the last two years. Last week, it hit a high of 891 cases, and the total number of cases this year has crossed 10,000.

The vaccine is "promising, but not perfect," said Professor Annelies Wilder-Smith, an infectious diseases expert at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

The results of the clinical trial of the vaccine, from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, were published in medical journal The Lancet yesterday. The trial, on more than 10,000 children in Asia, showed that the vaccine's effectiveness varied with the four dengue strains.

The children aged two to 14 years were given three jabs of the vaccine over one year, and were followed up for another two years.

The protection was highest at 75 per cent for Den-3 and Den-4 strains, 50 per cent for Den-1 and 35 per cent for Den-2.

Unfortunately, Den-1 and Den-2 are the strains of the virus most commonly found in Singapore, The Straits Times reported online.

Dr Wilder-Smith said another drawback is that the trial was on children, but in Singapore, most dengue victims are adults.

Better for adults

But she added that the vaccine might actually work better in adults. This is because the vaccine was found to work better in children who had been infected previously.

In Singapore, 45 per cent of adults would have had a dengue infection by the age of 45, though many might not be aware of it as their symptoms could have been mild.

Dr Wilder-Smith said the vaccine also reduced the serious form of dengue by up to 80 per cent. The price of the vaccine is yet to be announced.

This article was first published on July 12, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.