Govt yet to approve dengue vaccine due to lack of info: Subra

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has yet to approve the world's first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, to be taken by the people in this country as there is no information on its effectiveness to patients aged 18 and above.

At present, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pix) said the vaccine was only known to be effective on patients aged between nine and 18, whereas the dengue cases in the country mostly involved patients aged between 25 and 40.

"A committee of experts is still studying on the use of the vaccine to treat dengue fever patients in the country as the vaccine cannot be said to have fulfilled the set criteria to be an optimal vaccine, it has several shortcomings.

"In a study conducted for its (the vaccine) efficacy, it is known only to be effective for those aged between nine and 18.

"This means there are no information on the vaccine being effective for those aged 18 and above, we don't have answer for that," he said in reply to a supplementary question by Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad (BN-Mersing) at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here today.

Dengvaxia was developed by a French pharmaceutical company and had been reportedly approved in Mexico in December last year, followed by other countries including the Philippines and Singapore.

To a question by Datuk Johari Abdul (PKR-Sungai Petani) on how far the ministry had galvanised its experts and finance in search for methods to overcome cases and deaths due to dengue, Dr Subramaniam said the government had implemented various efforts besides conducting study on the vaccine.

As of Oct 29 this year, a total of 89,243 dengue cases were reported compared to 100,665 cases reported in the corresponding period last year, a decline of 11.3%, he said.

As for death due to dengue, 202 deaths were reported during the same period compared to 277 death cases for the corresponding period last year, a decline of 75 cases or 27.1%, he added.

The minister said the decline in the number of dengue cases and death toll were due to joint efforts by the ministry, relevant agencies and the community in various preventive activities.

Dr Subramaniam said such efforts were recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the 67th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Western Pacific in Manila on Oct 10.

"WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan in her keynote address praised Malaysia's strategies in dengue prevention and control with the implementation of national-level 'gotong-royong' campaign involving local communities," he added. — Bernama