Promising results from trials on vaccines to fight dengue, are likely to see the introduction of the long awaited dengue vaccine, and hopefully mitigate morbidity and mortality from the disease that until last month had the country in its grip. “We looked at three vaccines from France, USA and Japan. Regarding the French vaccine, certain issues have to be resolved. The other two have so far had promising results. The US vaccine has been produced in an Indian manufacturing plant . They have requested Sri Lanka to be included in the phase 3 trial. These two have been found to be definitely effective and suitable for young children and other vulnerable patients,” Director General Health Services ( DGHS) Dr Jayasundera Bandara.
Asked when it was likely the vaccine would be released to the public health program, he said,” Perhaps by next year. As I said, the trials carried out using these vaccines from the USA and Japan, have now reached phase 2. We are expecting to do phase 3 which is the final stage. In fact, Sri lanka is already in phase 3 for the Japanese vaccine and expected to be included in the phase 3 trial of the US vaccine too.
Thereafter, it is left to the National Medicinal Regulatory Authority ( NMRA) to register them.” Registering the vaccines however, is not likely to be done overnight, even after approval from the scholarly panel of experts currently checking the vaccine for possible flaws. As Dr Jayasundara points out, “ Before registration, there are many issues that have to be sorted. In addition, doctors using the vaccine need to be one hundred percent certain that the vaccine is absolutely safe and effective, with no side effects. If not, it could have adverse effects on our vaccination program”. “The Committee will have to decide who is to get the vaccine and in what order. But, one thing I can be sure. We will be putting the vaccine out according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (W.H.O)”, he said.