New Dengue Vaccine Recommended for Use

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Dengue Virus, vaccines

Photo courtesy of Sanofi Pasteur / Institut Pasteur via Flickr

  • New dengue vaccine has just been recommended for general use: The World Health Organization (WHO) just recommended the first-ever dengue vaccine for general use. The vaccine called Dengvaxia developed by French drugmaker Sanofi SA, is aimed to prevent dengue fever in countries where the mosquito-borne disease is widespread, such  Latin America and Asia. According to WHO, the recommendation is based on the review of data from 25 clinical studies conducted in 15 different endemic and non-endemic countries around the world. During two large clinical trials covering Latin America and Asia involving more than 40,000 children and adolescents aged nine and older, the vaccine was able to protect about two-thirds of them. The vaccine was most effective at protecting against severe dengue, the potentially fatal form of the disease, preventing 93% of cases, and reducing hospitalizations resulting from dengue by 80%. Sanofi is already in talks with several governments in Asia and Latin America including Brazil, El Salvador and Mexico to launch vaccination campaigns. Some countries have already signed up to use it, including the Philippines, where 1 million schoolchildren will be immunized in 12 months starting in April, becoming the first country to adopt this vaccine. As Guillaume Leroy, vice president of Dengue Company, a division of Sanofi Pasteur, explained: “Many countries had been waiting for guidance from the WHO before making their decision.”
  • Why is shortsightedness reaching epidemic proportions globally: An extreme rise in Myopia (also known as shortsightedness) has been recorded all over East Asia. While sixty years ago, about 10–20% of the Chinese population was shortsighted, nowadays, up to 90% of teenagers and young adults are dealing with this eye condition. Approximately half of young adults in the United States and Europe are now affected by this condition as well, which is double the prevalence of half a century ago. By some estimates, one-third of the world’s population (about 2.5 billion people) could be affected by shortsightedness by the end of this decade. As Padmaja Sankaridurg, head of the myopia programme at the Brien Holden Vision Institute in Sydney, Australia explained: “We are going down the path of having a myopia epidemic.” These alarming data have encouraged more research to understand the causes of the disorder, and scientists are beginning to find answers. They are challenging old ideas that myopia is the domain of the “bookish child” and believe that spending too long indoors is placing children at risk. Kathryn Rose, head of orthoptics at the University of Technology, Sydney wants parents to take charge: “We’re really trying to give this message now that children need to spend more time outside.”

 

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