SEOUL, KOREA, Feb. 10--The 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 countries--Colombia and Thailand--to 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."
About Dengue Vaccine Initiative
The Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI) was established in 2010 to build on the work of the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative and to further awareness of the need to support the development and use of dengue vaccines. The goal of the DVI is to accelerate the introduction of safe and broadly protective vaccines into the national immunization programs of endemic and developing countries. DVI works with scientists, vaccine experts and policy makers from concept to implementation, promoting the development of dengue vaccines while also advocating with governments worldwide to ensure the swift adoption and distribution of a vaccine to those most in need.
About International Vaccine Institute
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is an international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines for the world's poorest people, especially children in developing countries. The IVI conducts research in 30 countries in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue fever, and develops new and improved vaccines, delivery routes and adjuvants at its headquarters in Seoul, Korea.
About Sabin Vaccine Institute
Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering from infectious and neglected tropical diseases through prevention and treatment. Sabin works with governments, academic institutions, scientists, medical professionals, and other non-profit organizations to provide short and long-term solutions for some of the globe's toughest health care challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate, prevent and cure infectious and neglected tropical diseases by developing new vaccines, establishing international networks, and advocating for effective and efficient delivery of preventions and treatments to the world's poor. www.sabin.org
About International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC)
IVAC's mission is to accelerate global access to life-saving vaccines through development and implementation of evidence-based policies. Drawing upon expertise and faculty from around the School, IVAC aims to create a convergence of the right vaccines in the right health systems, ensuring that millions more children will have the chance to grow into healthy, productive adults. IVAC projects are made possible by more than $50 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the GAVI Alliance.
About World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. The mission of the WHO Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals is the attainment of a world in which all people at risk are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. One of the programme's priority activities, implemented through the Initiative for Vaccine Research, is the acceleration of the availability and use of new vaccines for diseases of public health concern to developing countries. http://www.