According to the World Health Organization, over 40% of the world’s population is at risk from dengue fever – and it’s the leading cause of death among children in some Latin American and Asian countries. But there’s hope for a dengue-free future – because for the first time since the disease was identified 70 years ago, scientists have developed an experimental vaccine for the devastating disease. French pharmaceutical company Sanofi recently announced completion of a late-stage vaccine trial in Southeast Asia which reduced infection rates by 56% in children.
Image via John Tann
Cases of dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitos and can cause fever-like symptoms that can ultimately lead to a deadly hemorrhagic fever, have been increasing dramatically over the past 50 years, making the need for a vaccination more important than ever. Sanofi tested the vaccine on over 10,000 kids from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The vaccination showed a promising improvement in dengue fever infection rates, marking a huge step in prevention development for a disease that has managed to allude a cure despite decades of attempts to stop it.
“This achievement is the result of more than 20 years of work in the field of dengue, collaborating with investigators, volunteers, authorities, scientific experts and international organizations. Our goal is to make dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease and to support the World Health Organization’s ambition to reduce dengue mortality by 50 percent and morbidity by 25 percent by 2020,” said Sanofi Pasteur, President of Sanofi, and Olivier Charmeil, CEO of the company, in a joint statement. If all goes according to plan with the vaccine, the WHO and thousands of children around the world might just get their wish.