MANILA – The Philippines is one of the many testing sites all over world for a vaccine that aims to prevent dengue.
Sanofi-Pasteur, a leading global vaccine company, announces it is already in the final stage in developing the anti-dengue vaccine.
"We're currently having efficacy trials with over 30,000 volunteers both in Asia, including the Philippines, and Latin America. We expect the end of these efficacy trials by the end of next year,” said Dr. Melanie Saville, chief medical officer, dengue vaccine.
The company aims in coming up with a vaccine that will counter all four sero-types of dengue virus that is prevalent in the Philippines and neighboring countries.
“The vaccine has been designed to be used in three doses: 1 dose today, then 6 months later the second, then 6 months later the third,” said Guillaume Leroy, vice-president and dengue vaccine head.
Worldwide, dengue hits nearly 400 million people every year.
In the Philippines, more than 190 patients have died during the first half of 2013.
With the expected surge in demand, Sanofi-Pasteur assures ABS-CBN that the Philippines will be in the priority list when the vaccine becomes available.
“Philippines has been committed to the development of the vaccine so we will be addressing the demand in the Philippines as a priority,” said Leroy.
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of a new strain of dengue virus emerging even before the anti-dengue vaccine is commercially released.
“I think that’s unlikely. Dengue is a relatively stable vaccine, it’s not quite the same situation with influenza,” said Saville.
In the meantime, while the efficacy trial is still ongoing, medical experts advise the Philippines to continue the campaign against the dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
“Do mosquito control. And while the mosquito control methods are not perfect, they still do work,” said Prof. Duane Gubler of the Program on Emerging Infectious Diseases, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.
Aside from the Philippines, dengue cases also abound in Thailand and Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia as well as Latin America.