Mexico has approved the first vaccine against dengue fever, an initial step toward preventing a mosquito-borne infection that puts half of the world’s population at risk.
Bloomberg is reporting that Sanofi expects more approvals for Dengvaxia in Latin America and Asia.
Olivier Charmeil, who heads the Paris-based company’s vaccines unit, confirmed the move by Mexican health authorities.
The injection can thwart all four types of the virus, which has appeared in Portugal, France, Florida and Japan recently and increased the risk of “explosive outbreaks”, according to the World Health Organization.
Outbreaks are on the rise.
Unlike malaria, another disease spread by mosquitoes, dengue affects wealthier urban populations in middle-income countries in Latin America and Asia in addition to poorer African nations.
A water shortage in Sao Paulo prompted residents to store drinking supplies in pots and tanks, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes and a dengue epidemic involving thousands of cases this year.
In Hawaii, 139 cases have been confirmed in an ongoing outbreak, most of them in local residents.
Dengvaxia, developed over the past 20 years at a cost of 1.5 billion euros (US$1.65 billion), including manufacturing investments, awaits approval in at least 19 other countries.
Mexico’s regulator endorsed it for people between the ages of nine and 45 in areas where the disease is endemic.
Dengvaxia’s sales may reach US$1.4 billion by 2020, according to analyst estimates.
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