New vaccine could dampen dengue in Pacific
The French pharmaceutical company says clinical trials have shown a new dengue vaccine is highly effective against severe cases of the disease.
The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi announced this week that late stage clinical trials have shown the new vaccine against dengue is highly effective against severe cases of the disease and is a step closer to registration.
The head of the arbovirus research unit at New Caledonia's Pasteur Research Centre, Myrielle Du Pont, told Jenny Meyer the progress in the development of a new dengue vaccine is good news for Pacific countries who have struggled with outbreaks of the mosquito borne illness.
MYRIELLE DU PONT: There are several vaccines in development actually against dengue and there is one made by Sanofi Pasteur which has passed phase three trial. And the phase three trial was a quite good result estimating about 60 per cent protection for the four serotypes of dengue.
JENNY MEYER: I understand that the latest trials and the success in the trials means that the vaccine is closer to being able to be rolled out and registered for use in patients?
MDP: I don't know exactly when but Sanofi say they are hoping for next year 2015 or 2016 to be able, yes, to lead the vaccine.
JM: And how much of a problem is dengue fever in the Pacific region?
MDP: Actually dengue fever is a huge problem for the Pacific region. We've got many islands, we've got many vectors. And for example in New Caledonia we had a huge epidemic of dengue fever in 2013 and it was dengue 1 serotype. And actually there are other serotypes circulating in the region, mainly dengue 3 and dengue 1 and also dengue 2. So it means that this population is not immune against dengue virus.
JM: I understand that with this vaccine, that could really be a great step forward in terms of protecting people. Do you know how long the vaccine would be effective for? Would it be an annual thing or would it be life long protection?
MDP: We don't know how long the vaccine would be effective. I know it's a three dose vaccine. It seems that the human response was very good for serotype 3 or 4 and less good for serotype 2 for example. But they hope it will be effective for several years but we don't know.
JM: Have they been conducting any trials of this vaccine in the Pacific region as far as you know?
MDP: To my knowledge no. Only trials have been conducted in Asia, Southeast Asia, Thailand and South America; in the Pacific Islands, no.
JM: So when do expect that it might be able to be introduced for travellers or say local people where there's an epidemic situation?
MDP: It's a three dose vaccine; I think it's three, six and 12 months, so it means that for travellers you need to prepare your travel more than six months earlier. So I think this vaccine has been developed purely for epidemic regions, where dengue is epidemic and endemic.
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