Vietnam hopes to curb dengue fever as vaccine proves effective in trial

Thanh Nien News

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A doctor checks a boy infected with dengue fever at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang Nhung/TBKTSG A doctor checks a boy infected with dengue fever at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Hoang Nhung/TBKTSG


French pharmaceutical company Sanofi is expected to distribute a new dengue fever vaccine in Vietnam soon, after last-phase trials found the drug effective on subjects from 9 years old. 
Phan Trong Lan, head of Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, said the vaccine can prevent infection on 66 percent of the participants and reduce the number of severe cases by 93 percent. 
The effectivity is weaker on children below 9 as the vaccine can only protect 44 percent of them from the virus and reduce 67 percent of severe cases, he said.
The institute has cooperated with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine arm of the company, to test the drug on children in Vietnam the past five years. 
Lan said the side effects of the vaccine were similar or milder than vaccines for other diseases and that there have been no severe complications recorded during the trial period. 
Nearly 2,350 children ranging from two and 14 years of age from the Mekong Delta participated in the clinical trial program from 2011, with parental approval. 
Vietnam’s health ministry signed up for the program, hoping to find an effective protective measure against the world’s fastest growing tropical disease, which is the biggest killer out of 28 common infectious diseases in the country.
The country is one of five in Asian and ten worldwide participating in the trials.
Alarming infections
The mosquito-borne disease, which has flu-like symptoms like high fever, nausea and muscular pains, has caused nearly 45,000 infections in the country this year, including 28 deaths.
Doctors said the disease is in its peak year of a three to five year cycle and the number of patients has surpassed “alarming” levels in recent weeks.
Ho Chi Minh City has reported the highest number of patients, with nearly 10,700 admitted to hospitals as of October 1, up 80 percent from the same period last year.
Its inpatients on a weekly basis in August and September were around 600. Two of its infected children and three adults have died.
Doctors said that this year has seen a very large number of adult infections. 
“Adults are even more vulnerable to complications such as excessive bleeding and heart and liver conditions,” doctor Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, director of Ho Chi Minh Tropical Diseases Hospital said, as cited by Doi Song & Phap Luat.
Other disease-prone areas are Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces near HCMC, Hanoi, and Khanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam. 
Doctors said the outbreak could last until the end of November.

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