While the world awaits a Zika vaccine, the first ever injection against dengue fever is advancing, with Mexico becoming this week the latest country where people can get the shot.
French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi presented its Dengvaxia vaccine to doctors at an event in Merida on Saturday Sept. 10; people aged nine to 45 will be able to get the shot from their physicians from Monday.
After public programs were launched in the Philippines and Brazil’s state of Parana this year, the company is rolling out the vaccine in the private sector in Mexico while health authorities prepare a public immunization plan.
The head of Sanofi’s dengue program, Guillaume Leroy, told AFP in Mexico City that the company already has one million doses ready in the country.
Leroy said it was difficult to estimate how much the vaccine will cost in Mexico as it will depend on the distribution networks and the public vaccination program.
The mosquito-borne virus costs governments around the world $18 billion a year, Leroy said.
“We estimate that in Mexico and in other countries that the benefits will outweigh the costs of the (vaccine) intervention,” he said.
The company will have a “fair policy throughout the world and affordable for health authorities.”
Mexico was the first country in the world to give regulatory approval to the vaccine in December 2015. Seven others followed suit, including Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and the Philippines.
Sanofi is awaiting authorizations in 18 other countries.
The fast-growing disease infects as many as 400 million people every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has endorsed the vaccine.
Sanofi’s research and development work took 20 years, costing more than 1.5 billion euros (US $1.7 billion).
Now, Sanofi and other pharmaceutical firms are racing to find a weapon against Zika, which like dengue is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
“Developing a vaccine against Zika will be easier after developing a vaccine against dengue,” Leroy said, noting that the viruses share genetic similarities.
“All these investments (on dengue) through more than 100 collaborations worldwide allow us today to gain a lot of time on different vaccinal approaches” against Zika, he said.
Some 70 countries and territories have reported local mosquito-borne Zika transmission, with Brazil by far the hardest hit and the WHO declaring it a public health emergency.
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Source. ctvnew.ca via afp.com
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