WHO prequalifies new dengue vaccine, aiding global fight against disease

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has prequalified a new dengue vaccine known as TAK-003.

Developed by Takeda, this live-attenuated vaccine, which incorporates weakened forms of the four dengue virus serotypes, received WHO’s approval on May 10, 2024, marking it as the second dengue vaccine to achieve such recognition.

The new dengue vaccine

WHO recommends TAK-003 for children between the ages of 6 to 16 years residing in areas with high incidence and transmission rates of dengue.

The vaccine is to be administered via a two-dose regimen, spaced three months apart.

Dr. Rogerio Gaspar, WHO Director for Regulation and Prequalification, emphasized the vaccine’s significance, stating, “The prequalification of TAK-003 is an important step in the expansion of global access to dengue vaccines. This approval makes it eligible for procurement by UN agencies including UNICEF and PAHO. With only two dengue vaccines to date prequalified, we look forward to more vaccine developers coming forward for assessment, so that we can ensure vaccines reach all communities who need it.”

The WHO’s prequalification list also features the CYD-TDV vaccine, developed by Sanofi Pasteur, another pivotal tool in the fight against dengue.

Dengue fever in Nigeria

Dengue fever has increasingly become a recognized public health issue in Nigeria, yet it remains largely underreported due to symptom overlap with more common febrile illnesses such as malaria.

  • The virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which thrive in Nigeria’s tropical climate and the urban environments prevalent throughout the country.
  • Reports of sporadic outbreaks and cases have been noted in several states including Sokoto, Kaduna, and Kano, but comprehensive surveillance has been limited.
  • Recent studies have highlighted a higher seroprevalence of dengue in Nigeria than previously acknowledged, suggesting a substantial, albeit overlooked, disease burden.

The introduction of WHO-prequalified vaccines such as TAK-003 is especially crucial in urban and peri-urban areas, where high population densities and abundant mosquito breeding sites increase the risk of dengue transmission.

What you should know

Dengue, a vector-borne disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, poses a significant health threat globally, with severe dengue as a potentially fatal complication.

Annually, an estimated 100-400 million dengue cases occur worldwide, affecting 3.8 billion people across endemic regions primarily in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

The record for the highest number of cases was set in 2023 when the WHO region of the Americas reported approximately 4.5 million cases and 2300 deaths.

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