Dengue Vaccine Initiative - Why a vaccine?
Dengue vaccines have been under development since the 1940s, but due to the limited appreciation of global dengue disease burden and of the potential markets for dengue vaccines, the industry’s interest languished throughout much of the 20th century.
In recent years, however, the development of dengue vaccines has accelerated dramatically. Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia® became the first dengue vaccine to be licensed for use in 2015. Today, several other vaccines are in various stages of advanced development, with clinical trials currently underway.
Vaccine development for dengue is particularly challenging because dengue fever is caused by one of four related, but distinct, virus serotypes (DENV 1-4). While recovery from infection by one virus provides lifelong immunity against that virus, it provides only partial and transient immunity against the other three. For vaccine development, this means that an effective vaccine against dengue needs to be tetravalent, providing protection against all four dengue viruses.
Dengue vaccines will complement, but not replace, prevention methods, such as vector control, already in place. According to the WHO, drawing on the experiences of other vaccine-preventable vector-borne diseases, effective surveillance, prevention and outbreak response tools (vector control and vaccines) must continue to complement each other in reducing the burden of the disease.