UN Authorizes Second Shot to Fight Dengue in Americas

04:03 May 19, 2024

UN Authorizes Second Shot to Fight Dengue in Americas

The World Health Organization recently authorized a second dengue vaccine. The move could provide protection for millions of people worldwide against the mosquito-borne disease.

This year, several dengue outbreaks have happened in places across the Americas.

In a statement on May 15, the U.N. health agency said it approved the dengue vaccine made by the Japanese drugmaker Takeda.

Takeda’s dengue vaccine is known as Qdenga. It was previously approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2022. The two-dose vaccine is given three months apart. It protects against the four kinds of dengue. The WHO recommends its use in children between the ages of 6 and 16 who live in areas with high rates of dengue.

Approval by the WHO now means that donors and other U.N. agencies can purchase the vaccine for poorer countries.

Studies have shown Takeda’s vaccine is about 84 percent effective in preventing people from being hospitalized and about 61 percent effective in stopping symptoms.

WHO’s Rogerio Gaspar is director for the agency’s approvals of medicines and vaccines. He said it was “an important step in the expansion of global access to dengue vaccines.”

The first dengue vaccine that the WHO approved was made by the drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur. The vaccine was later found to increase the risk of severe dengue in people who had not been infected with the disease before.

There is no exact treatment for dengue. It is a leading cause of serious illness and death in about 120 Latin American and Asian countries. About 80 percent of infections are mild. But 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. That is an increase of 206 percent compared with the same period last year. In March of this year, officials in Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency over its dengue epidemic. Brazilian health officials began giving out the Takeda vaccine with the goal of protecting at least 3 million people.

Infectious disease experts say climate change and the increased range of mosquitoes that carry dengue are partly to blame for the spread of the disease.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Google Play VOA Learning English - Digdok