Dengvaxia is the result of over 20 years of research and development and is the first vaccine approved for the prevention of dengue, a serious mosquito-borne disease that weighs heavily on public health systems throughout the world. In fact, 3.9 billion people live in areas where they are at risk of dengue1. There are an estimated 390 million dengue infections annually, of which 100 million are symptomatic; including 500,000 severe and hospitalized cases each year2-3. There are an estimated 10,000 deaths from dengue every year4.
In cases where science can provide a potential solution, we believe that no family should have to endure the painful, and in some cases fatal, burden of dengue fever. Our efforts reflect Sanofi’s core mission of ending the suffering caused by vaccine preventable diseases.
Our priority is ensuring the safety of our vaccines. Throughout the vaccine’s development and launch, we followed all international regulatory standards and were transparent throughout the process. We worked with partner nations in line with our high ethical standards and all applicable laws.
We remain fully confident in the safety and efficacy of our dengue vaccine. The World Health Organization continues to recommend the vaccine for those in endemic regions with a previous dengue infection5. In clinical trials of individuals aged nine and above, Dengvaxia® resulted in a reduction in severe dengue by 93% and in hospitalizations by 81%6. No causal-related deaths were reported in 15 countries after clinical trials conducted for more than a decade with 40,000 subjects involved. There continues to be no evidence that any deaths have been causally linked to our vaccine.
We are encouraged to see several doctors and scientists come out in opposition to the lack of scientific rigor in the analysis of the situation in the Philippines7. Over 700 doctors in the Philippines have signed a petition and begun speaking out against the misinformation surrounding the vaccine’s safety8.
Now more than ever we are seeing a troubling trend toward a rejection of proven and verifiable scientific and medical facts. This situation should be of concern to all of us as it leads to a lack of confidence in vaccines which prompts downstream negative health consequences. Currently in the Philippines misinformation surrounding the safety of vaccines has led to a significant decline in immunization rates for polio, chicken pox, tetanus and other diseases, thus increasing the risks for the population9. We must not allow public health to come under threat from a dangerous rejection of science, which takes root by feeding inaccuracies.
Our promise is that we will continue to work to ensure our life saving dengue vaccine is available to all those who need it and thereby continues to weaken the spread of dengue. This is our mission and we hope that you will join us in support of science, innovation, and in defense of public health.
1 World Health Organization, “Dengue and severe dengue” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/
2 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “The global distribution and burden of dengue” – April 25, 2013
3 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “The global distribution and burden of dengue” – November 12, 2013 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845515/
4 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Epidemiology of dengue: past, present and future prospects” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753061/
5 World Health Organization, “Questions and Answers related to the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia and its use” http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/dengue/q_and_a_dengue_vaccine_Dengvaxia_use/en/
6 World Health Organization, “Questions and Answers related to the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia and its use” http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/dengue/q_and_a_dengue_vaccine_Dengvaxia_use/en/
7 Among them, Dr. Heidi Larson, Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Director of the Vaccines Confidence Project. “Philippines: Dengvaxia Scare -Turning A Serious Health Issue To A Political Witch-Hunt” http://www.vaccineconfidence.org/philippines-dengvaxia-scare-turning-serious-health-issue-political-witch-hunt/
9 The Daily Telegraph, “Philippines immunisation rates plummet amid Dengue vaccination scare” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/05/philippines-immunisation-rates-plummet-amid-dengue-vaccination/