First chikungunya vaccine approved in the United States

2023-11-10 02:22:48

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The United States approved the first vaccine against chikungunya on Thursday, November 9, developed by the European group Valneva, health authorities announced in a press release. The vaccine, which will be marketed under the name Ixchiq, is authorized for people aged 18 and over, at increased risk of being exposed to the virus, said the United States Medicines Agency (FDA), whose decisions are widely followed around the world. An application for authorization has also been filed by Valneva with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The chikungunya virus, transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, causes the sudden onset of fever and violent joint pain. Symptoms can sometimes last for months or even years, but deaths are rare. This disease is mainly present in tropical regions, particularly in Africa, Southeast Asia and certain regions of the Americas. However, chikungunya has spread to new regions of the world, causing an increase in cases, the FDA said, calling the disease “emerging global health threat”. Cases have been recorded in Europe. According to the FDA, at least five million cases of infection have been recorded over the past 15 years.

“Chikungunya virus infections can lead to serious and long-term health problems, especially for older people and individuals with a history of medical conditions”, underlined in the press release Peter Marks, senior official within the American agency. The virus can also be transmitted to infants from their mothers and prove fatal for the baby.

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Two clinical trials in North America

The vaccine is injected in one dose, and contains the attenuated virus – a standard technique used for other vaccines. Two clinical trials were carried out in North America on several thousand people. The main side effects are headaches, fatigue, muscle pain and even nausea. In rare cases, more serious reactions have been noted, the FDA said. Two clinical trial participants who received the vaccine required hospitalization.

There is currently no specific treatment to cure the disease once the infection is acquired. Treatment mainly aims to relieve fever and pain using common medications such as paracetamol, combined with good hydration and rest. In the absence of preventive treatment until now, the only way to protect yourself was to avoid getting bitten.

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The World with AFP

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