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Dengue vaccine likely by 2019 end

India could finally have a vaccine for dreaded dengue as early as end of 2019, according to the drug maker Panacea Biotec. It has secured permission to conduct clinical trials for the vaccine in the country and will start the same on humans by 2018. It has also received permission to conduct phase I/II trials from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

The vaccine for the disease which has killed at least 216 people in the country during the year is critical to drive down the number of deaths caused by the disease and lower out of pocket costs of the patients. Dengue is a big challenge for the country and a vaccine is direly required which is why DGCI has given a go ahead for the trials for dengue vaccine. The trials are being facilitated in a speedy manner and as a regulator; they are ensuring that the vaccine is effective and safe for the people.

The Technology Development Board which is a part of the department of science and technology and Panacea Biotec are investing Rs.28.99 crore for the development of the vaccine. National Institute of Health and Panacea Biotec has developed the dengue vaccine with proven safety in pre-clinical studies. The proposed vaccine is designed to protect individuals against all the four types of viruses which cause dengue.

The experimental vaccine is a single dose shot and has been found to stimulate a strong immune response against all the four types of viruses in all age groups. The vaccines which are currently under development require 2-3 doses to achieve the desired immune response while the published clinical data of the only licensed vaccine from outside India has shown a poor immune response against Type 2 strain of dengue. There is also a three dose vaccine which is effective only in the age group of 9-45 years. The Panacea Biotec’s vaccine is a live attenuated tetravalent vaccine.

Joint Managing Director of Panacea, Rajesh Jain mentioned that an efficient dengue vaccine should provide a balanced immune response against all the four serotypes in all age groups in a single dose regime. And the new vaccine development program would represent a major advancement in the control of the life threatening disease globally. According to a report of health ministry, total 140,910 cases and 216 deaths have been caused due to dengue in the current year in India.

The maximum number of cases was reported from Tamil Nadu (20,141), followed by Kerala (19,543), Karnataka (15,570), Punjab (14,049), West Bengal (10,697) and Delhi (8,549). 245 people died of dengue in 2016 and 220 in 2015. The total number of cases of dengue in 2016 was 129,166 and 99,913 in 2015.

At present, there are no specific options available and the treatment of dengue is primarily supportive. 

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