Indonesians now have access to the world’s first dengue vaccine

Each year an estimated 390 million dengue infections occur around the world, resulting in around 25,000 deaths annually worldwide. But those number may start to drop soon thanks to a new vaccine that has just been approved by the Indonesian government.

“The first dengue fever vaccine has been given the green light by the Drug and Food Monitoring Agency [BPOM] and is now available,” Cissy B. Kartasasmita, chairwoman of Immunization Task Force, the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), said on Sunday as quoted by Tempo.

The vaccine, called Dengvaxia, has has been in development for 20 years by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur. Since it was launched last year, it has been approved for use in seven countries and Indonesia is the second country in Asia in which the vaccine passed regulatory inspection. It has also been approved for use in Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Philippines and Paraguay.

According to a press release from Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine has been tested through a clinical study program involving 40,000 children, adolescents and adults in 25 studies in 15 countries around the world. Efficacy analysis documented that the vaccine protects against 65.6% of symptomatic dengue disease caused by any of the four serotypes of the dengue virus in the study population from 9 – 16 years olds. In addition, the vaccines protection against severe dengue reached 93.2% and prevention of hospitalizations due to dengue reached 80.8%. 

The important takeaway from that is that the vaccine has been proven to be most successful when applied to children 9-16 years old. It should also still be administered to those who have had dengue before, as there are actually four different strains of dengue and the vaccine protects against all of them.

Three doses of the virus need to be given in 6-month intervals and each dose currently costs Rp 900,000. Cissy said that the shots were not currently covered by the national healthcare program but that the plan was for them to eventually be incorporated into the government’s national immunization program.

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