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Danger of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine confirmed in new study

Published on 14/06/18 at 10:43am

A study that thoroughly analyses the impact of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine has confirmed what was feared – children without prior exposure to dengue had an increased risk of hospitalisation and the development of severe dengue.

The study authors took the statistics from their findings and extrapolated the risk over a population of one million children aged nine to 16 years of age: “over a period of five years, vaccination would prevent approximately 11,000 hospitalisations (12,000 avoided among seropositive persons with 1000 excess among seronegative persons) and approximately 2500 severe cases (3000 avoided among seropositive persons and 500 excess among seronegative persons)”.

This means that there would be 1,000 hospitalisations of previously healthy children and 500 would develop severe dengue infection, weighed against an overall benefit to the population.

Sanofi responded to the results by highlighting the efficacy that the vaccine displayed, “This new publication confirms the vaccine’s potential to prevent dengue, particularly severe dengue (84%) and hospitalisations due to dengue (80%) for the 5-year follow-up period of the study in individuals nine years of age or older who have had a  prior dengue infection.”

The trouble with this analysis of the study is that it presupposes that there would be knowledge of whether a child has already been exposed to dengue prior to vaccination.

There are tests that can determine whether someone has previously been infected with dengue but whether they can be applied efficiently to the process of vaccination remains open to question. The test would have to give the readout very quickly and with a high degree of accuracy for many to feel comfortable giving the vaccine.

Already a significant amount of damage has been done to brand of Dengvaxia and it seems like an uphill task for Sanofi to once again have national health authorities trust the safety of the vaccine.

Ben Hargreaves

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