Dengue Vaccine Maker Struggles to Find Diagnostic That Will Make Its Product Safe to Use


Sanofi Pasteur is the manufacturer of Denvaxia which is a vaccine used to immunize children against dengue fever. If you don’t know what dengue is, it’s a potentially fatal virus that’s found in tropical and subtropical climates across the globe. Dengue isn’t contagious from person to person. It’s transmitted in four or five variations by bites of infected female mosquitoes. For purposes of incubation, the period might be as short as three days and as long as two weeks. After that, the actual illness lasts from three days to a week. If you don’t think that you need to worry about it, dengue has already hit Florida.

Determining Prior Infection

What comes to issue with Denvaxia is the danger that it poses to children who have never suffered through a dengue infection. The World Health Association decided to only recommend that Denvaxia to be administered to children who have been tested and confirmed that they have had a prior dengue infection. That’s because there has been an increase in severe illness, hospitalizations and fatalities in children who have been vaccinated but never had dengue in the past. What comes to issue is that at this point in time, there is no reliable test anywhere in the world to ascertain within any reasonable degree of medical certainty whether a child has been previously infected with dengue.

Rapid Testing is the Key

Warnings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A spokesman for Denvaxia maintains that the manufacturer is still committed to pursuing a way that Denvaxia can be used safely while drastically reducing the burden and expense of the health care costs of dengue infections. Sanofi Pasteur wants to get fast, accurate and affordable tests available for the hospitals, clinics and doctors who will be administering Denvaxia. The spokesman remarked that “the availability of having a rapid test is absolutely crucial in the success of implementing such a vaccine.”

Mass Vaccination is Dangerous

Others believe that the Denvaxia vaccine doesn’t hold a bright future at all. They maintain that having to test each recipient before getting vaccinated gets in the way of its usefulness. Mass vaccination occurred in the Philippines, and that’s when very serious issues arose. At least 62 deaths of children who were immunized with the dengue vaccine were reported. It’s no longer administered there, and its under intense scrutiny by the government.

No Highly Specific Test Yet

As per the Dengue vaccine in its present form, there’s no doubt that it’s a benefit for the general populations of countries that risk dengue fever. On the other hand, if people aren’t tested before being vaccinated, there is going to be a significant statistical segment of people who are hospitalized simply because they were vaccinated. A study on this issue is presently in progress in Brazil for purposes of determining whether there is a new test that’s highly specific on this issue.

Delays Can Complicate Immunizations

A delay of a month or more to determine whether a person has previously suffered from dengue just isn’t going to be effective. After that, people would need to go back to get vaccinated, and there can be any number of reasons why people who have been tested won’t do that.

Denvaxia is presently licensed in 20 countries. To date, its manufacturer has not made a decision on whether it will seek licensing in the United States.

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