New dengue vaccine tested on Cebu City children

Aimed to minimize infections from dengue strain

Cebu City (18 February) — A vaccine being developed to protect against the dengue virus is currently being tested to children aged six to 14 years old in Cebu City where the incidence of dengue cases is increasing.

Dr. Jocelyn Abellana, the regional dengue coordinator of the Dept. of Health (DOH-7) bared the news during a recent PIA Kapihan that tackled the perennial health threat of dengue disease in the city.

"The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences is establishing a satellite unit at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and they are trying a new vaccine against dengue," Abellana said.

The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) is a collaborating center of the World Health Organization for diagnostic reference, training and investigation of emerging infectious diseases. It has programs in enteric diseases, malaria vaccine and drug research, viral diseases especially dengue fever and hepatitis among others.

Abellana said the AFRIMS central office in Asia is in Bangkok, Thailand while the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) is a government-manned tertiary hospital under the DOH.

The dengue vaccine that has been tested to specific age-group children is aimed at minimizing the infections caused by the virus providing temporary immunity and not meant to achieve permanent immunity against the dengue virus, Abellana declared.

Abellana stressed there can be no immunity against the dengue virus as there are four types of dengue strains and there is no cross immunity drug.

"In case the vaccine is effective, it can only provide temporary immunity of over a year against the active infectious strain while a person only has four infections in a lifetime," Abellana pointed out.

The DOH-7 regional dengue program coordinator said the findings on the effectivity of the vaccine can be ascertained in six months time.

Abellana on the other hand, revealed a clinical study initiated by the VSMMC and the Cebu City Medical Center that undernourished children are more likely to survive the dengue fever compared to healthy babies.

Although the DOH-7 official said they could not medically explain nor elaborate of the finding but that this is a subject that requires more research.

The DOH-7 meanwhile, has provided 500 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Calamba, one of the 80 barangays in Cebu City where they conducted a ‘pulong-pulong’ with the residents on dengue prevention measures.

The nets are treated to ward off mosquitoes including the Aedes Egypti, the dengue-virus carrying mosquito, this is said.

"We are encouraging the barangay captains of the city to also adopt this as part of the dengue prevention measure," according to Abellana.

Abellana said they are encouraging residents in dengue-prone areas to put up the nets permanently in the windows and doors as the Aedes mosquito is a daytime mosquito.

Abellana said they do not recommend fogging but in extreme cases like during outbreaks, fogging may be necessary.

Cebu City has 217 cases of dengue and six deaths recorded from January to February 13 of this year alone sharing the biggest bulk out of the 724 dengue cases in the region of the same period, based on the dengue registry record. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)