Starting vaccine production early is a bold move, especially following the perplexing results with the vaccine in Thailand last year (the vaccine conferred protection against just three of the four dengue serotypes). However, if the vaccine does prove itself in data still to come from the Asian and Latin American clinical trials, Sanofi wants to hit the ground running.
Success could land the French company $2.6 billion a year in sales. However, if the vaccine fails, Sanofi's investment in the $398 million Neuvillle-sur-Saone plant could be laid to waste.
But it's not just Sanofi's investments that could be swinging in the balance. Brazil has the highest number of reported cases of dengue annually (WHO 2000-2005). Earlier this year, Brazilian health authorities reported a steep rise in confirmed cases of dengue fever – with more than 200,000 people infected in seven weeks compared to 70,000 over the comparable time period last year. And Brazil is set to host the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. Could there be a risk for travellers to contract dengue?
It looks as if we can expect the first dengue vaccine to be produced by the end of 2015. Too late for the World Cup, but will we be celebrating more than just the Olympics in Rio 2016?
If you want to know more about vaccines, and meet innovators, disruptors and influencers from across the vaccine research, development and technology landscape, attend theWorld Vaccine Congress Europe 2013, 16-17 October 2013, Lille.