PETALING JAYA: An effective dengue vaccine will not only have a positive effect on public health, but also help save the Government money.
Universiti Malaya research consultant Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit said that if Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine works as promised, using it “could be very cost-effective for the country”.
The Star reported yesterday that the French pharmaceutical company had announced that Phase III of its clinical trial for the vaccine showed an 88.5% protective result against dengue haemorrhagic fever and decreased hospitalisation from dengue by two-thirds.
The trial was conducted in five South-East Asian countries, including Malaysia.
According to Prof Lam, a study by Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and Brandeis University of the United States had estimated the cost of dengue in Malaysia to be US$102mil (RM325mil) annually.
He also noted that according to the trial results published online in The Lancet yesterday, the protection given by the vaccine after the first dose was almost the same as the protection after full three doses.
“If this is so, it will make the administration of the vaccine in dengue-endemic countries much easier, and certainly less expensive,” he said, though adding that further study needs to be done to validate this result.
However, Prof Lam pointed out that while the vaccine showed 75% protection against the DEN-3 and DEN-4 serotypes of the dengue virus, and 50% for DEN-1, the 35% protection given against DEN-2 was not statistically significant.
Developing an effective vaccine against the dengue virus is tough as it needs to be effective against all four serotypes simultaneously; otherwise, a vaccinated person would be prone to severe complications should he be infected with a serotype he is not protected against.
Taken as a whole, Sanofi Pasteur’s vaccine offers an overall protection rate of 56% against all the four serotypes.
Sanofi Pasteur has said they will await the results from a similar trial currently being completed in Latin America, before applying for approval to sell the vaccine.