New dengue vaccine offers hope

Thailand and four other Asean countries have developed a new dengue vaccine that could mitigate the disease's severity by 88.5%, according to the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of Thailand (PIDST).

PIDST president Usa Thisyakorn made the announcement at the sixth national vaccine conference in Bangkok yesterday.

The vaccine was developed under joint research between five countries — Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, she said.

Ms Usa said the vaccine can prevent and mitigate the impact of dengue and is the world's first advance against the disease.

"The vaccine was found to prevent dengue infection by 56.5% and mitigate its severity by 88.5%," the PIDST president said.

She said the vaccine was developed during experiments on more than 10,000 children, aged between two and 14.

The vaccine can prevent four strains of dengue, she added.

The research was first conducted at Photaram Hospital and Banpong Hospital in Ratchaburi and Kamphaeng Phet provincial hospital in 2009, areas which are prone to the disease, she said.

Those involved in the development phase of the vaccine will be followed for the next three years in line with World Health Organisation rules, Ms Usa said.

Five Latin American countries are also expected to announce successful development of their own dengue vaccine over the next few months, she said. Their research was conducted among more than 20,000 young people.

Department of Disease Control director-general Sophon Mekthon said the Asean dengue vaccine could be deployed in Thailand in two years' time.

It is now in the process of being registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), he said.

Dr Sophon said four public health campaigns encouraging people to come forward to be vaccinated will be announced shortly.

They are a vaccine to prevent the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer; a vaccine to prevent diarrhoea in children; a vaccine to prevent diphtheria and tetanus in adults; and vaccinations of adults and medical personnel to prevent influenza and other diseases.

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