Dengue: The Hunt for a Vaccine
Scientists hunt for a vaccine against a deadly virus that affects 400 million people worldwide
Angelita Javier is grieving for her son, who was suddenly struck down with the disease. She describes the frightening speed that it can kill. "One afternoon he came down with a fever, so I took him to the doctor for a check up. That night he couldn't sleep so we took him to the hospital. He was in the hospital for two days, then he died".
It's a race against time, as climate change also plays a big part in the extension of the dengue season. "In the past it usually happened during the rainy season. Around November, December, January and, at the latest, March. That was twenty years ago. Now it has all changed, and it is very much related to the changing climate. The rainy season lasts virtually throughout the year", says Budi Haryanto of the University of Indonesia. Climate change means that Dengue can no longer just be considered a tropical disease. More and more countries are becoming threatened.
However, hope may be on the horizon, as one research team from Washington DC is breaking new ground in the hunt for a vaccine. Dr. Anna Durbin says, "We are currently conducting early phase vaccine trials for the prevention of dengue; it's the first in human trial, so the first time a vaccine has been given to humans". People like Angelita are being given the opportunity to save lives by taking part in these trials. Angelita's surviving sons are in the program. "It means a lot to us because we live with this fear. We experienced a loss and that's something that should be prevented".