Virologists call for dengue vaccination drives alongside other preventive measures

Virologists yesterday recommended that policymakers should opt for a dengue vaccination programme alongside effective mosquito control initiatives to reduce the pressure on the nation’s hospitals.

They made the remarks at a roundtable titled “Dengue Outbreak and Our Responsibilities,” organised by the Society for Medical Virologists, Bangladesh, at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.

The discussion commenced with a keynote presentation by Saif Ullah Munshi, professor of virology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and publicity secretary of the society.

In his keynote, he shared information on two dengue vaccines — Denvaxia, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, and Qdenga, also known as TAK-003, manufactured by Japanese company Takeda.

Denvaxia is recommended by the World Health Organization for persons aged nine to 45 with confirmed previous dengue virus infection.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Denvaxia is licensed in 20 countries.

According to Nature Journal, Qdenga received approval from Indonesia, the European Commission, and Brazilian regulators for the use of their two-dose vaccine in people aged four and above, regardless of baseline dengue immunity status.

Prof Saif Ullah said, “Only initiating anti-mosquito drives is not enough to prevent dengue outbreaks and [pressure on hospitals. Rolling out dengue vaccines should be an important consideration for the government as part of the preventive measures.

“Measures should be taken for the trial run of these vaccines for the approval of these two vaccines in Bangladesh,” he added.

Prof Tahmina Shirin, vice-president of the society and director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research said the frequent emergence of new dengue serotypes has increased the risk of severe dengue illness.

She asserted the need for caution and prompt medical attention for any fever-like symptoms.

Prof Md Nazrul Islam, former vice chancellor of BSMMU, called for establishing a national virology institute, which will help reduce the potential risks and challenges of future viral epidemics.

Prof Kazi Julfikar Mamun, president of the society, highlighted the importance of accurately detecting dengue infection by conducting dengue NS1 antigen and dengue antibody tests.

“Dengue patients usually suffer from fever for 5-6 days. After the period, most people think they have recovered. However, the patient may exhibit severe symptoms after this period,” he added.

He suggested to stay cautious about the severe symptom and seeking professional advice during this period.

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