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2023-10-06| Asia-Pacific

WHO Recommends Takeda’s Dengue Vaccine for High-Burden Areas

by Sinead Huang
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Takeda, a global pharmaceutical company, has received recommendations from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization regarding the use of its dengue vaccine, QDENGA. This marks a significant step in the fight against dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that poses a substantial public health challenge in numerous regions. In this article, we delve into the details of these recommendations and their potential impact on dengue prevention and control efforts.

Related article: Takeda’s Dengue Vaccine Wins European Approval

The Urgent Need to Address Dengue

Dengue fever is a prevalent mosquito-borne viral disease with a global reach. It is endemic in more than 100 countries and annually infects an estimated 390 million individuals worldwide. While many dengue infections exhibit mild or no symptoms, severe cases can lead to life-threatening conditions and even death. Dengue also ranks among the leading causes of fever in travelers returning from regions such as Latin America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Given its wide-ranging impact, the development of an effective dengue vaccine has long been a priority.

SAGE Recommendations and Vaccine Details

SAGE has put forward several key recommendations for the use of Takeda’s dengue vaccine, QDENGA. Firstly, it suggests introducing the vaccine in areas with a high burden of dengue disease and intense transmission. This strategic approach aims to maximize the vaccine’s impact on public health while minimizing potential risks, particularly among individuals without prior exposure to dengue.

Secondly, SAGE recommends targeting children aged 6 to 16 years for vaccination. Importantly, the vaccine should be administered approximately 1-2 years before the age-specific peak incidence of dengue-related hospitalizations. This timing is crucial to ensure that vulnerable age groups are protected during peak transmission seasons. Additionally, the vaccine is administered in a 2-dose schedule, with a 3-month interval between doses.

Lastly, SAGE emphasizes the importance of implementing a well-designed communication strategy and community engagement alongside vaccine introduction. Effective communication is essential to ensure public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of the vaccine, ultimately enhancing its uptake and impact.

Promising Results and Global Availability

Takeda’s QDENGA vaccine has undergone rigorous testing, including 19 Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials involving more than 28,000 participants, including children and adults. The pivotal Phase 3 Tetravalent Immunization against Dengue Efficacy Study (TIDES) trial demonstrated strong efficacy, with an 80.2% efficacy in preventing virologically-confirmed dengue (VCD) after 12 months. Notably, the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing hospitalization due to VCD fever reached an impressive 90.4%.

Even more encouragingly, in an exploratory analysis spanning four and a half years (54 months after the second dose), QDENGA exhibited sustained overall protection, with a 61.2% efficacy against VCD and an 84.1% efficacy against hospitalized dengue. These promising results bode well for the vaccine’s potential to reduce the burden of dengue in high-risk areas.

Currently available in the private market in Europe, Indonesia, and Brazil, QDENGA is expected to become accessible in Argentina and Thailand in the near future. As the WHO considers these SAGE recommendations, the global fight against dengue may see a significant boost with the introduction of this effective vaccine. 

The recommendations from WHO’s SAGE offer a ray of hope in the ongoing battle against dengue fever. With a highly effective vaccine like QDENGA in their arsenal, public health authorities in high-burden areas have the potential to significantly reduce the impact of this mosquito-borne disease. As the WHO finalizes its position on the use of QDENGA in public vaccination programs, the world eagerly awaits further progress in the fight against dengue.

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