Dengue Vaccine Clinical Development
I’m Shibadas. I trained as a doctor and I now work in the biopharmaceutical industry. My focus is on the evaluation and development of new vaccines.
Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have for protecting the health of people worldwide. It’s an incredibly rewarding job, and I’m very proud to be committed to the cause of public health. Today, public health faces a number of threats - including the impact of climate change on the spread of infectious disease.
How is climate change affecting the spread of mosquito-borne disease?
Mosquitos breed in stagnant water close to people’s homes - things like flowerpots, air coolers and old tires. When infected mosquitoes spread, more people may be exposed to mosquito-borne illnesses like yellow fever and dengue. This can lead to disease outbreaks .
Climate change means many regions around the world are getting warmer, and as temperatures rise, more disease-carrying mosquitoes and other insects move into these warmer regions . Rainy seasons can also bring on increased mosquito breeding, so the more prolonged any rainy seasons are, the greater the mosquito count.
This poses a particular problem for dengue; the fastest spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world . Dengue is estimated to cause 390 million infections each year . It’s found mostly in urban and semi-urban areas in tropical and subtropical climates where the mosquitos that carry dengue are most common . Due to climate change, affected regions could grow in number .
Why do mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue need attention?
Most people who are infected with dengue experience no symptoms or a mild illness with flu-like symptoms. But some may also experience serious illness that requires medical attention . This can be a challenge, especially during outbreaks, when hospitals can quickly become overwhelmed.
In 2019, the World Health organization labelled dengue as one of the top 10 threats to global health . Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen a 30-fold increase in dengue cases, especially in Latin America and Asia .
Historically, preventing dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses has involved a range of methods: wearing insect repellent and long clothing; eliminating potential breeding sites; fogging, spray and other methods of reducing mosquitoes in affected environments. Today, we are increasingly looking to vaccines as an additional tool to help curb the spread of these harmful diseases.
Given how vaccines have proven to be helpful in protecting against many infectious diseases, it’s my hope that one day we’ll see more vaccination options for diseases that are spread by mosquitoes and other insects. I am honored to be a part of this global mission.Read next story
References and further links
- Zika virus: A call to action for physicians in the era of climate change
- Projecting the risk of mosquito-borne diseases in a warmer and more populated world: a multi-model, multi-scenario intercomparison modelling study
- Dengue & severe dengue - WHO infographic
- Dengue & severe dengue - WHO website
- Ten threats to global health in 2019
- Epidemiology, Burden Of Disease And Transmission