Vaccine offers 5-year immunity versus dengue

Based on the initial results of ongoing local clinical tests, a vaccine developed by a French pharmaceutical company can provide protection against four strains of the deadly dengue virus for five years and without visible side effects.

This was the welcome announcement made Wednesday by an infectious disease specialist who is a member of the clinical trial team.

"Most of the subjects [who were given the complete vaccine or all three doses] have proven to be immune against dengue for five years with no side effect which shows a lot of promise for the vaccine," Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) told the Inquirer.

During Wednesday's forum of the Philippine Pediatrics Society (PPS) Inc., Capeding said that they expected to complete final tests on the vaccine by the end of the year. (See related story on Page A24.)

According to her, of the more than 3,000 subjects in the clinical tests conducted in Manila, close to half received all three doses of the vaccine developed by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. Most of the participants were between the ages of 2 and 45 and residents of the cities of Manila, San Pablo and Cebu.

Capeding described the vaccine as tetravalent or designed to protect against all four dengue virus strains.

During the forum, she also clarified that experts have yet to discover a cure for the deadly illness as she stressed that what was important was for the patient to be immediately brought to a medical facility as soon as symptoms such as fever, headaches, joint pains, stomachaches and vomiting appear.

Capeding, meanwhile, said that experiments were still being conducted on the efficacy of certain plants or herbs, particularly "tawa-tawa," against dengue or other viruses.

"We are trying to determine their potency and the toxins they possess which could have an effect on viruses," she said as she added, "There is still no advisory on the use of tawa-tawa so it is possible that its reported effect of increasing the blood platelet [count] could [just] be a coincidence."


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