It’s not an admission you’d expect to hear from a cable news broadcaster that has lambasted presidential candidates and others when they have suggested that vaccines are not 100 percent effective or safe, but CNN has made one, contradicting earlier stances taken by contributors.
On it’s website, CNN reported in recent days that a vaccine aimed at preventing dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, may (unsurprisingly) actually do more harm than good. Citing a just-released study, the network said that the drug, which has the trade name Dengvaxia, “could lead to an increase” in the number of dengue fever cases if not properly administered. And given the fact that an entire study was done on the issue, problems must not be that rare.
“Vaccination in low-transmission settings may increase the incidence of more severe ‘secondary-like’ infection and, thus, the numbers hospitalized for dengue. In moderate transmission settings, we predict positive impacts overall but increased risks of hospitalization with dengue disease for individuals who are vaccinated when seronegative,” says an abstract of the study which was published in the journal Science.
Barely 50 percent effective
In recent years, the number of people infected with dengue has grown. Today, the disease spreads to an estimated 390 million people every single year, and it has gone global; cases have been reported in more than 100 countries around the world.
Hence the vaccine. But one that is obviously infecting more people than anyone likely anticipated.
Dengvaxia is the product of Sanofi Pasteur, a Big Pharma firm aligned with Merck. It took two decades to develop, and the company published results on its efficacy in the New England Journal of Medicine last year. In trials, the vaccine demonstrated 59.2 percent efficacy against dengue when all results were pooled across various populations and age groups. Figures varied when comparing various types of dengue, the age of vaccine recipients and whether or not they had been infected before. Study authors did not appear to measure its effectiveness in individuals who had substantially improved dietary intake.
“It’s effectiveness depends on the local epidemiology of dengue and how intense the transmission is,” Neil Ferguson, director of the MRC Center for Outbreak Analysis and Modeling at Imperial College London, which published the recent study, told CNN.
Now licensed in six countries, the Philippines was the first to introduce Dengvaxia. Recently, Brazil, which is dealing with an outbreak of another mosquito-borne disease, Zika, said that it too would begin using the vaccine. Mexico, Paraguay, Singapore and El Salvador also recently said that they will roll out the vaccine due to the high numbers of people in their respective countries who are infected.
Where is the apology to Trump?
However, in the recently published study, Ferguson used data from clinical trials of Dengvaxia to analyze the impact of utilizing the vaccine in a variety of settings. He found that using it in areas where there is a low incidence of dengue fever, and people are far less likely to have been exposed, could lead to an increase in the incidence of the disease. That, he concluded, is due to the complex nature of the virus and the manner in which it interacts with the human immune system.
“Unlike most diseases, the second time you get dengue, it’s much more likely to be severe than the first time you get it,” Ferguson told the news network. When a person who has never experienced dengue is immunized for it, the vaccine can act like a silent infection, which could set them up for an even greater infection if they are ever exposed to the virus in real form.
“The immunity we develop both protects us and places us at risk,” noted Derek Cummings, a professor of biology at the University of Florida, a co-leader of the study.
“It can have the potential to make things worse if it’s misused,” Ferguson said.
In the meantime, we’re sure that the Trump campaign won’t be getting an apology from CNN anytime soon for questioning the efficacy of the modern medical system’s regimen of vaccines, though he likely isn’t sitting around waiting for one either.