Dengvaxia sale approved for dengue-endemic areas in Europe

MANILA, Philippines – Sanofi's Dengvaxia may have raised fears in the Philippines, but European countries have not been dissuaded from using the dengue vaccine. 

The European Commission on Wednesday, December 19, granted marketing authorization for the Dengvaxia vaccine, following the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use's recommendation to approve its use in European endemic areas in October. 

In Europe, Dengvaxia will be available to prevent further infections in individuals aged 9 to 45 years with a documented prior dengue infection and who live in endemic areas.

“In some of the European overseas territories where dengue recurs regularly, people who have had a dengue infection previously are at risk of being infected with the virus again,” said Su-Peing Ng in a release.

Su-Peing is the global medical head at Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine unit of Sanofi.

“As the second infection with dengue tends to be more severe than the first, it is important to be able to offer these people a vaccine that could help protect them against subsequent dengue infections,” she said. 

The controversial Dengvaxia vaccine is known to prevent dengue virus infections in individuals who have had prior infections, but poses more risks for those who have not been infected before immunization.

Sanofi issued a warning about this in November 2017, leading to shock and fear among Filipino parents, health workers, and government officials, as a school-based dengue immunization program was launched in April 2016. (READ: POST DENGVAXIA CONTROVERSY: Paving the way forward for vaccines, health care)

As of September 2018, out of the 154 children who died after receiving at least one dose of the dengue vaccine in the Philippines, 19 contracted the dengue virus. However, there is no evidence on whether it was the vaccine itself that caused the deaths.

The Dengvaxia controversy has posed many problems for the Department of Health, which is now working to recover public trust while preparing for the introduction of the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine in 2019 and for the implementation of the universal health care law

Ten other countries have approved the commercial release of the vaccine: Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com