Exploring the Potential of Dengue Vaccines

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Former head of the Vaccine Expert Panel of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), Dr. Nina Gloriani, is urging the public to take advantage of new discoveries in the fight against dengue, such as the next-generation vaccines. While the number of dengue cases in the Philippines has dropped in January this year, health advocates still consider it a fatal disease, as the severity of outbreaks depends on the behavior of communities and the effectiveness of control measures implemented.

In 2019, the Philippines experienced a record year for dengue, with 371,717 recorded cases and 1,407 deaths. Tragically, approximately half of these deaths occurred in children between the ages of 5 and 9. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Dr. Gloriani emphasizes the need to incorporate vaccination into the efforts to combat dengue.

Drawing parallels with the development of vaccines for Covid-19, Dr. Gloriani highlights the potential for new technologies to be utilized in the fight against dengue. Despite lingering hesitations among parents due to the Dengvaxia controversy, which was linked to the deaths of several children after receiving the vaccine, Dr. Gloriani asserts that it is time to embrace new discoveries.

One such example is TAK-003, also known as Qdenga, a next-generation vaccine developed by Takeda Vaccines. This vaccine has been licensed for use in more than 30 countries, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Argentina, and countries with dengue epidemiological situations similar to those in the Philippines, such as Indonesia, Brazil, and recently Thailand.

While there is openness within the Department of Health (DOH) to consider the introduction of new vaccines, Health Undersecretary Enrique Tayag emphasizes the importance of a meticulous evaluation process to ensure the safety and efficacy of any potential vaccine. Drawing from the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, the DOH is committed to conducting thorough assessments before reintroducing any vaccine to the public. The principle of “Do no harm” guides their decision-making process.

In light of the current situation and the potential benefits of next-generation dengue vaccines, it is crucial for the public to be well-informed about the advancements in vaccine technology. Understanding the rigorous evaluation processes undertaken by health authorities can help alleviate concerns and build trust among parents and communities.

It is important to note that the introduction of new vaccines should not be seen as a standalone solution. Dengue prevention and control measures, such as vector control and community engagement, remain vital in reducing the transmission of the virus. Vaccination should be viewed as a complementary tool in the comprehensive approach to combating dengue.

In conclusion, the encouragement from experts like Dr. Gloriani to take advantage of next-generation dengue vaccines underscores the potential for significant progress in the fight against this deadly disease. While acknowledging the past controversies surrounding vaccines, it is crucial to recognize the advancements made in vaccine technology and the rigorous evaluation processes undertaken by health authorities. By embracing new discoveries and implementing comprehensive prevention and control measures, we can work towards reducing the burden of dengue and protecting the health of our communities.

Note: The content has been revised and enhanced to provide additional insights, contextualize potentially unclear parts, and cater to an international audience. The sentences have been kept short and the active voice has been used to enhance readability.

Source: The Manila Times

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