The roughly 30,000 victims of dengue each year in Mexico could soon get some respite now that the first-ever vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease has arrived.
Developed by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, Dengvaxia was granted approval last December by Mexican authorities. A first lot of 1 million doses is now available in Mexico, said Guillaume Leroy, vice-president of the dengue business division at Sanofi.
The French firm is also in the last stages of obtaining an additional approval from the General Health Council which would allow it to supply the product to public health institutions such as IMSS and ISSSTE and that operated by Pemex.
“We’re in the last formalities for the vaccine to be included in the basic package of medical care by public institutions,” stated Leroy, without offering an estimate of when it would be available to the broader population.
The Sanofi representative said that Mexico is one of the first countries to get the vaccine, which is available through doctors and clinics.
According to the Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Cofepris), the vaccine could prevent over 8,000 hospitalizations and 104 deaths each year, representing savings to the public health system of 1.1 billion pesos (US $58 million).
The same governmental agency reported that 32,000 cases of dengue were registered in 2014, representing a spending in medical care of 3.2 billion pesos (about US $250 million), an amount that represented 2.5% of the public health sector’s 2015 budget.
The rate of dengue infections in Mexico has maintained an upward trend in recent years, although officials figures show the number of cases in 2015 was 27,178, 5,000 fewer than the previous year.
“According the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, the number of dengue cases in Mexico has increased by 9% in the last 20 years,” said virologist and dengue specialist José Ramos Castañeda.
Leroy affirmed that with the dengue vaccine the risk of related hospitalizations can decrease by 80% and the risk of severe cases requiring intensive care by 93%. It can also prevent 65% of new cases of infection, and is effective against the four known types of dengue virus serotypes.
Sanofi’s annual production capacity for Dengvaxia is 100 million doses.
Dengue is transmitted by Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that carries chikungunya, zika and other diseases.