In DepthInfectious Disease

Safety concerns derail dengue vaccination program

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Science  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6370, pp. 1514-1515
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6370.1514

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Efforts to control dengue suffered a major setback in late November when Sanofi Pasteur announced that its vaccine, the only one on the market, should only be given to those who have already had one infection with the mosquito-borne disease that affects millions of people in the tropics each year. The dengue virus comes in four serotypes. A first infection is usually mild, but a second infection with a different serotype puts the patient at risk of a serious, occasionally life-threatening illness. A retrospective analysis of those who participated in phase III trials in 2011 found that those who had never had a dengue infection at the time of vaccination were in rare cases at risk of enhanced disease, although the Dengvaxia vaccine did reduce infections and cases of serious illness in those who had previously suffered from dengue. The news caused an uproar in the Philippines, where a mass vaccination campaign was halted. And the incident is likely to lead health officials to carefully scrutinize other vaccines now in development.