New Delhi: French pharmaceutical company Sanofi is conducting a key trial to prevent an estimated 100 million cases of dengue infection each year.
The tropical killer is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It is also known as “breakbone fever” and can cause intense joint and muscle pain.
Though dengue and malaria are both transmitted by mosquitoes, they are notably different diseases. Malaria typically attacks rural populations living near swamps. Dengue, by contrast, has adapted to life in the city.
For Sanofi, which has invested S$560 million in a new French factory to make the three-dose vaccine, it could mean a billion dollars in yearly sales as half the world is exposed to the disease, notably in fast-expanding tropical cities from Rio and Mexico to Manila and Mumbai.
In the past 50 years there has been a thirty-fold jump in cases. The World Health Organisation officially puts infections at 50 to 100 million a year, though many experts think this assessment from the 1990s badly under-estimates the disease. Most patients survive but it is estimated to kill about 20,000 every year, many of these children less able to fight it off.
(With Agency inputs)