A novel dengue vaccine could in fact prove to be pretty harmful in the end. Far from lessening the chances of the spread of the disease, it could increase the incidence of the epidemic.
Everybody supposes in a commonsensical manner that vaccination is the ideal method of eradicating the incidence of a disease. Yet this may not necessarily be so.
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A newly licensed vaccine against the dengue virus may prove to be deleterious in the final analysis. Termed the Dengvaxia, it could in fact spread the disease even more so unless precautions are taken.
Dengue has spread far and wide in recent times. 390 million cases of dengue sufferers are reported each year now. The ailment has gone global and is now extant in over a hundred countries.
This worldwide spread of dengue began in 1943 and reached a peak in 2013. It’s been a long and bumpy road that has been trodden by researchers in the search for a dengue vaccine.
Dengvaxia took two decades to perfect and it showed great scope in 2015. The vaccine was 59.2% effective against the disease. The research pointed out its efficiency as a prophylactic measure against the dengue virus.
The effectiveness of the vaccine is dependent upon the epidemic incidence on a local level and the intensity of transmission. To vaccinate people who are more prone to catch the virus and in the right age group is the goal.
This can yield beneficial results. Six nations are already using the vaccine under licensed form. The story of the dengue vaccine began with the Philippines. It was the first country to begin trials.
Brazil, Paraguay, Singapore, El Salvador and Mexico are also willing to comply. Since the incidence of the disease is high in all these countries, such a usage of the vaccine only comes naturally to them.
Yet there is something wrong in all of this. New clinical trials show that the vaccine, when it is used in low risk regions where people are not likely to catch the disease, causes an increase in the epidemic.
This is a paradox if ever there was one. Those who catch dengue for a second time tend to have more extreme symptoms than those who catch it for the first time.
This immunity protects and increases the risks both at one and the same time. If an abuse or misuse of the vaccine occurs, it places the patients at great risk.
The virus seems to have a curious effect on the human immune system. While the vaccine can decrease the spread of dengue by 10% to 30%, in some places it actually causes a burgeoning of the malady.
The vaccine is best used in those who have already suffered from dengue once. In others, it may give rise to results that vary. Policy-makers will have to look deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of Dengvaxia if they are to really conquer dengue.
This study got published in the journal Science.