Dengue vaccine five years off, expert says

At the conclusion of a three-day dengue workshop recently held in Singapore, a virology expert announced that a commercial vaccine for dengue fever could be ready in as little as five years.

Lam Sai Kit, professor emeritus from the University of Malaysia and chairman of the Dengue v2V scientific forum, discussed the challenges of implementing vaccination strategies in the Asia-Pacific. He said his organization would spend the next five years trying to convince policymakers of the importance of dengue vaccination, according to

Dengue v2V aims to collect comprehensive data on the number of dengue cases in the world and establish mechanisms for funding widespread vaccination.

Worldwide, approximately 220 million people are infected with dengue every year. Of these, two million, mostly children, develop the hemorrhagic form of the disease.

The mortality rate for the non-hemorrhagic form is low - around one percent - but the symptoms of the disease, including weakness, muscle pain and fever, can last for weeks, reports.

The Asia-Pacific region has seen a surge in dengue cases this year and there is a race to find a cure. French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur is, so far, the only vaccine developer that has made it to the third and final stage of clinical trials, according to These trials are being conducted in 10 countries, including Singapore, which has seen almost 5,000 cases of dengue this year.

The third stage Sanofi trials being conducted in Thailand are expected to be completed in 2013, when the drug’s safety and immunogenicity is analyzed. Professor Lam told that there is often a lag time between a drug’s licensure and its availability.