KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 – Malaysia is to only decide by June whether to use the world’s first dengue vaccine now already licensed in Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and the Philippines. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said yesterday night the decision would be made after the ministry’s technical and scientific committee completes a study on the efficacy of the vaccine, Dengvaxia, produced by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
“I want our experts to study all the available data and propose the best way to use the vaccine, then only will we make a decision. We all want a suitable vaccine, but what is most important now is to ensure the vaccine will really solve the problem we are facing now,” he told the reporters after attending a dinner hosted by the Malaysian Indian Business Council at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club here.
He said the decision would be made after the ministry had studied all the available drugs in the country and overseas, and after taking into consideration the recommendations of the World Health Organisation technical committee. However, Subramaniam said, the company had applied for the vaccine to be registered under the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau.
The ministry had been informed previously that a scientific study on the first dengue vaccine in the world showed that it could only provide 47 per cent effective protection to a dengue victim and that further studies had to be carried out. On Monday, the international media reported that WHO had approved the first dengue vaccine in the world to combat the Aedes mosquito-borne disease which threatened almost half of the world’s population.
Dengvaxia was developed by Pasteur, the vaccine division of Sanofi, which had conducted studies on the tropical disease for more than 20 years at a cost of EUR1.5 billion (about RM7 billion). This included the cost of developing the vaccine. It has been reported that Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador and the Philippines had licensed the vaccine.