SINGAPORE - A new dengue vaccine, to be marketed by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi next year, is "not good enough" for Singapore, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament yesterday.
He was responding to queries from Members of Parliament on when the vaccine and other new drugs would hit the shelves here.
Dr Balakrishnan, a trained medical doctor, explained that the vaccine was not effective enough against the two most common types of dengue virus here, type 1 and type 2.
The vaccinated group's risk of developing dengue is reduced by 50 and 35 per cent respectively for type 1 and 2, compared with an unvaccinated group.
"Until further clinical data is available for us to be sure that the benefits outweigh the risks, I don't think the Ministry of Health or Health Sciences Authority will rush into approving the vaccine," he said.
Meanwhile, celgosivir, an anti-viral treatment derived from plant seeds, has not been proven to be more effective than a placebo though it is found to be safe, Dr Balakrishnan added.
Members of Parliament also asked if the fines for mosquito breeding could be scaled based on the risks that the breeding poses to the public. For instance, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad wanted heftier fines for construction firms found to have mosquitoes breeding on worksites.
Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah suggested that pest control firms that fail to control mosquito breeding at worksites be blacklisted.
Dr Balakrishnan said the ministry will study the suggestions on raising penalties but warned that pinning a specific case of dengue on a specific incidence of mosquito breeding would be hard.
To date, 62 stop-work orders have been issued and 14 contractors prosecuted this year for allowing mosquito breeding on their premises.
The number of weekly dengue cases for the last week was 640, down from a record high of 891 cases at the end of June and start of last month.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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