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International Vaccine Institute announces launch of Dengue Vaccine Initiative

SEOUL, KOREA, Feb. 10The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) today announced the launch of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI), in collaboration with the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin), the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and the World Health Organization (WHO), to support development of vaccines to control dengue fever, a widespread and expanding hemorrhagic fever that is endemic in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

Through a $6.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DVI will accelerate the development and utilization of safe, affordable and broadly protective vaccines to combat dengue, a mosquito-borne infection which causes severe flu-like symptoms, and its potentially lethal complication dengue hemorrhagic fever, characterized by bleeding, plasma fluid leakage, and in severe cases shock and death. Each year, an estimated 2 million people with dengue hemorrhagic fever require hospitalization representing a significant burden on the fragile healthcare systems of developing and endemic nations.

"We are extremely grateful for the Gates Foundation's continued support of our critical work to promote the development of life-saving dengue vaccines and ensure their effective introduction. Dengue is an infection whose burden has increased sharply around the world," said Dr. John Clemens, Director-General of IVI. "The global dengue community is on the eve of many important breakthroughs in dengue research and development, and I believe that we'll make significant progress in controlling dengue within the decade."

An estimated 3.6 billion individuals (55% of the world's population) are at risk of contracting dengue, an infection caused by four distinct, yet closely related viruses. Recovery from one strain of dengue confers lifelong immunity against the infecting strain but increases the risk for development of hemorrhagic fever, shock, and death following infection from the other three strains.

"Development and use of a dengue vaccine represents the best hope of preventing cases, deaths and economic losses," said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice President of Sabin. "There are very few places that dengue does not impact. The infection is endemic in more than 100 countries across the globe and incidence of infection in typically unexpected places is increasingly common."

Current methods are limited to vector control, which have been largely ineffective at controlling dengue with the number of cases and geographic reach of the infection increasing dramatically each year. According to the WHO, the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years with 50 million dengue infections now occurring worldwide each year.

To contribute to raising the priority and support for new dengue vaccines likely to be licensed in a few years, DVI will undertake concentrated work in two countriesColombia and Thailandto generate data on the burden of disease, potential private demand, cost of illness and seroprevalence of dengue infection. In addition, DVI will carry out private demand and cost of illness studies in Brazil and Vietnam.

"Dengue is high on the agenda of many countries, so are the expectations into a dengue vaccine," said Dr. Joachim Hombach, Acting Head of WHO's Initiative for Vaccine Research. "Activities conducted under DVI will not only promote the development of safe and effective vaccines but ensure that products will be accessible and affordable to impoverished communities where the infection is endemic."

"In many cases, insufficient planning and financing for new vaccines has significantly slowed uptake in countries that need them most" said Dr. Orin Levine, Executive Director, International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "At IVAC, we look forward to overcoming the economic obstacles to dengue vaccine use as part of DVI and to paving the way for rapid uptake of vaccines as early as 2015."


Contact: Eteena Tadjiogueu
Sabin Vaccine Institute

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