The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval to the world’s inaugural chikungunya vaccine , recognizing it as an “emerging global health threat.” The mosquito-borne ailment, known for inducing fever and joint pains and posing a potential fatality risk for newborns, has seen a significant rise in reported cases this year, totaling about 440,000 cases with 350 reported deaths by September.
The FDA’s approval of the Chikungunya vaccine, named Ixchiq, is expected to expedite its global deployment. Currently, there is no specific pharmaceutical intervention for chikungunya, and the regions most affected this year are South America and South Asia.
Europe’s Valneva has developed the vaccine, and it has received authorization for individuals aged 18 and above who are at a heightened risk of contracting the disease. Administered in a single shot, Ixchiq aims to address a pressing health concern, particularly for older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions. Notably, Peter Marks, a senior FDA official, underscores the significance of this development.
Chikungunya virus infection can lead to severe and prolonged health issues, with symptoms extending beyond joint pains to include rashes, headaches, and muscle pain. Furthermore, joint pains can persist for months or even years, underscoring the long-term impact of the disease. Additionally, the FDA emphasizes that the prevalence of the disease has expanded beyond its traditional geographical areas, posing a global health challenge that necessitates urgent attention.
Since 2008, health authorities have reported at least five million chikungunya cases, with Brazil leading the count this year at 218,613 cases. Moreover, India has reported over 93,000 cases, experiencing a significant outbreak in the capital, Delhi, in 2016. The FDA’s approval of the chikungunya vaccine represents a critical and proactive step in addressing the escalating global impact of the disease.