UN agency authorizes second vaccine against dengue amid outbreaks in the Americas

GENEVA, May 15 : The World Health Organization on Wednesday authorised a second dengue vaccine, a move that could provide protection for millions worldwide against the mosquito-borne disease that has already sparked numerous outbreaks across the Americas this year.
In a statement on Wednesday, the UN health agency said it approved the dengue vaccine made by the Japanese pharmaceutical Takeda, recommending its use in children between six to 16 years old living in regions with high rates of dengue. The two-dose vaccine protects against the four types of dengue.
Takeda’s dengue vaccine, known as Qdenga, was previously given the nod by the European Medicines Agency in 2022.
WHO’s approval now means that donors and other UN agencies can purchase the vaccine for poorer countries.
Studies have shown Takeda’s vaccine is about 84 per cent effective in preventing people from being hospitalised with dengue and about 61 per cent effective in stopping symptoms.
WHO’s Rogerio Gaspar, director for the agency’s approvals of medicines and vaccines, said it was “an important step in the expansion of global access to dengue vaccines.” He noted it was the second immunization the UN agency had authorised for dengue.
The first vaccine WHO approved was made by Sanofi Pasteur, which was later found to increase the risk of severe dengue in people who had not previously been infected with the disease.
There is no specific treatment for dengue, a leading cause of serious illness and death in roughly 120 Latin American and Asian countries. While about 80 per cent of infections are mild, severe cases of dengue can lead to internal bleeding, organ failure and death.
Last week, the WHO reported there were 6.7 million suspected cases of dengue in the Americas, an increase of 206 per cent compared with the same period in 2023. In March, authorities in Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency over its dengue epidemic and the country began rolling out the Takeda vaccine, aiming to inoculate at least three million people.
Last year, the WHO said cases of dengue have spiked tenfold over the last generation, with climate change and the increasing range of the mosquitoes that carry dengue partly to blame for the disease’s spread. (AP)