First dengue vaccine launched in Malaysia, Latest World News - The New Paper

First dengue vaccine launched in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA – Malaysia’s defence against dengue fever has been strengthened with the launch of the country’s first vaccine against the disease.

Pharmaceutical firm Takeda Malaysia’s dengue tetravalent vaccine (live attenuated) Qdenga was officially launched on June 11.

The vaccine, approved by the Drug Control Authority, is designed to protect against all four dengue virus serotypes.

It requires two doses at a three-month interval and can be administered to those aged four and above.

Takeda Malaysia and Singapore country general manager Lynette Moey said the impact of dengue fever cannot be overstated.

“It has inflicted a heavy toll on at-risk populations, with Asia bearing a significant burden of the global dengue crisis,” she said at the media launch of the vaccine in Malaysia.

“The World Health Organisation has recognised dengue as one of the top 10 threats to global health, underscoring the urgency of our collective efforts to address this pressing issue.

“In the wake of the enduring impact of the recent pandemic, we are acutely aware of the need to confront health threats with resilience and innovation,” she added.

Dr Moey said the vaccine will be available at general practitioner clinics and private hospitals.

“We cannot disclose the pricing. The healthcare facilities will determine their price,” she said when asked about the cost of the vaccine.

She said it would be “extremely equitable” in terms of affordability.

Dr Moey said the company is also open to working with the Health Ministry on bringing the vaccine to the public healthcare sector.

She said clinical trials had shown that the vaccine successfully prevented 80.2 per cent of symptomatic dengue cases at 12 months after vaccination.

After a period of four and a half years, the vaccine’s efficacy was at 84.1 per cent against hospitalisation and 61.2 per cent against symptomatic cases, she added.

The vaccine has been approved in more than 30 countries, including the European Union, Britain, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

There was an 86.3 per cent increase in dengue cases in Malaysia in 2023 from the previous year.

In the first quarter of 2024, 41,565 cases and 28 fatalities were reported in the country.

International Society for Infectious Diseases president Paul Tambyah told The Straits Times in May that, while vaccination has been touted as a solution to dengue, dengue vaccine development has been “very tricky” over the years.

Dr Tambyah said that Dengvaxia – currently the only dengue vaccine available in Singapore, and only to those between 12 and 45 years old who have previously been infected – has limited utility due to the increased risk of developing severe dengue in those who have never been infected.

He added that while Takeda’s Qdenga – which is approved in countries like Brazil and Indonesia – does not have that problem, its efficacy stands at 61 per cent, which he described as being “a bit lower” than needed to eradicate dengue. – THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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