PETALING JAYA: Medical experts in Malaysia are of the opinion that it is high time for a dengue vaccine to be licensed in the country in view of the expected rise in dengue cases.
Medical practitioner Dr Milton Lum said the Health Ministry should come up with an answer on whether it would license dengue vaccine.
“If you think it’s acceptable or if you think it’s not acceptable, come out and say so. They (the Health Ministry) can’t get away and say it is still being studied.
“The ministry has been ‘studying’ this for more than a year and it has not come out with information on what the study entailed.
“Studies from Latin America and in South-East Asia show that the vaccine is efficacious in a marked reduction hospitalisation and for severe dengue,” he said yesterday.
Dengvaxia, the world’s first anti-dengue vaccine produced by Sanofi Pasteur, was approved in Mexico on Dec 9.
It was then approved for use in the Philippines and Brazil on Dec 22 and Dec 28, respectively.
Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had previously said that the Drug Control Authority under the ministry had convened several meetings to review the data submitted by the manufacturer and would make a conclusion on the registration by the mid-2016.
He had also said that with the overall 65.6% efficacy of the vaccine, it would just be an additional tool in the multi-pronged approach to dengue prevention and control.
Universiti Malaya research consultant Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Lam Sai Kit voiced the same sentiments, urging the ministry to seriously consider licensing the vaccine soon to allow the people access to the vaccine as an additional tool in the fight against dengue.
Dr Lam, who had just returned from the Asia Dengue Summit in Bangkok, said the Philippines was already planning to provide free vaccines in three regional hot zones.
It was reported that the first week this year saw 3,337 dengue cases.
Last year, 120,836 dengue cases were reported, an increase of 11.2% or 12,138 cases compared with 108,698 cases in 2014.
The number of dengue deaths also increased from 215 in 2014 to 336 last year, an increase of 56%.