First dengue vaccine developed

LONDON - Scientists have said that they have developed the world's first vaccine against dengue fever seen to work in large-scale trials.

Research in the Lancet journal suggests more than 50 per cent of children who are given the vaccine are protected against the disease.

Half the world's population is at risk of catching the mosquito-borne virus, BBC reported. Experts said though the long-awaited study is promising, vaccines with greater effectiveness are crucial. There are currently no treatments to prevent dengue fever – an illness which affects more than one million people a year.

In the largest late-stage trial of a vaccine to date, researchers from five centres across Asia treated 6,000 children aged between two and 14 years old.

Some 56 per cent were seen to have protection against the virus at the end of two years. It worked best for children with certain subtypes of the virus and those who had been exposed to it before.

The vaccine had an even greater impact on severe forms of the disease, reducing the number of people needing treatment in hospital and preventing 80 per cent of cases of haemorrhagic fever – a potentially life-threatening complication.

Lead author Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding, from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in the Philippines, told the BBC "Given that dengue is a major public health problem in most Asian countries the findings have the potential to have a huge impact on public health."

The doctor suggests people who have been given the vaccine should be monitored for at least five years to ensure it remains effective and safe.

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Aaj Kal