Italian Medicines Agency Approves First Dengue Vaccine for Use in Italy
Yesterday, the Italian Medicines Agency (Aifa) granted approval for the first vaccine against Dengue disease to be used in Italy, opening up the possibility of prevention for those who have not been exposed to the virus. The announcement was made by Takeda, the company that produces the vaccine.
The vaccine is a live attenuated tetravalent vaccine designed to protect against all four serotypes of the Dengue virus. It can be administered to individuals as young as four years old and does not require a pre-vaccination test.
Dengue is an infectious disease transmitted through mosquito bites, particularly those of the Aedes genus, which includes the tiger mosquito that is present in Italy. While it usually causes mild symptoms, in some cases, it can develop into a severe form of the disease that requires hospitalization.
What makes Takeda’s vaccine innovative is that it is structured on the basis of serotype 2 of the Dengue virus, utilizing recombinant technology to ensure immunization against all four serotypes. This is crucial considering that approximately half of the world‘s population lives in areas where Dengue is endemic, with Asian countries being among the most affected. Every year, there are around 390 million reported cases of Dengue infection globally, and the incidence has increased 30-fold in the past 50 years, according to Professor Nicola Petrosillo, the Head of Infection Prevention and Control Service at Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Campus Bio-Medicino of Rome.
In Europe, Dengue is not endemic, but cases are mostly imported from individuals who have recently visited regions where the disease is prevalent. In Italy, several cases of Dengue contracted abroad are reported annually. The introduction of this new vaccine is expected to provide a powerful tool for preventing the disease among international travelers for tourism, work, or returning to their countries of origin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Dengue as one of the ten major threats to global health due to its rapid spread. This summer, one of the first locally transmitted outbreaks occurred in Castiglione d’Adda, Italy, infecting at least 21 people, whether they displayed symptoms or were detected through screening.
With the approval of this new vaccine, Italy takes a significant step forward in fighting against Dengue disease and protecting its population. The availability of this preventive measure will not only benefit Italians but also contribute to the global effort in combating this rapidly spreading viral disease.