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Dengue vaccine on pause as IMSS ponders its merits

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An employee works on the vaccines production line at the factory Sanofi Pasteur in western France. Photo: Getty

Mérida, Yucatán — A year after a French company brought its dengue vaccine to Yucatán, the potentially life saving drug is still absent from government health authorities’ routine care plan.

The IMSS’s state delegate here, Jorge Herberto Méndez Vales, stated that so far there is no indication “at the national level” of whether the government will include the vaccine in the public health strategy.

In September of last year, the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur presented the Dengvaxia vaccine in Yucatán. A million doses of the world’s first dengue-prevention drug were distributed in Mexico.

Herberto Méndez said that the incorporation of any medicine or vaccine into a routine health care plan depends on a national health committee, where all sectors of the institution are represented.

Dengvaxia “is something that they are beginning to review,” he said.

For now, Dengvaxia is only found in private hospitals and doctors’ offices.

The state has recorded 58 cases of non-severe dengue this year, 11 fewer incidences compared to last year.

A research article earlier this year concluded that a dengue vaccine would prevent 90 percent of all cases, and would be money will spent.

“We conclude that a dengue vaccine program in Yucatán, Mexico would be very cost-effective as long as the vaccination cost per individual is less than $140 and $214 from health care and societal perspectives, respectively,” writes Eunha Shim, a scientist at Yale University.

Sanofi Pasteur, the French company that developed the vaccine after 20 years of research, hailed the licensing of its drug in Mexico years ago, and urged national health authorities to make it available to citizens reliant on public health services.

“The private clinic launch of the dengue vaccine in Mexico is good news and follows closely CONAVA, the country’s National Vaccination Council, publication of recommendations for use of the dengue vaccine which provides the framework for the nation’s health authorities to consider implementation of the dengue vaccine in public programs to reduce disease burden in Mexico and reach the WHO 2020 ambition for dengue reduction,” said Dr. Cesar Mascareñas, global head of medical affairs for dengue at Sanofi Pasteur.

The World Health Organization has called on endemic countries to reduce dengue mortality by 50 percent and morbidity by 25 percent by 2020, which is feasible with a public vaccination plan, according to Mascareñas.

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