Health + Wellness

New Four-Strain Influenza Vaccine Now Available In Singapore

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Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi has just announced the launch of its first quadrivalent influenza vaccine FluQuadri in Singapore.

For decades, seasonal influenza vaccines were trivalent protecting against three strains: two A strains and a single B strain. However, two distinct influenza B lineages (B/Victoria and B/Yamagata) now co-circulate worldwide in varying and unpredictable proportions. In recent years, influenza B viruses represented up to 44% of circulating strains in the US and up to 63% in Australia.

In Singapore influenza B represents up to 70% of all circulating strains in the first quarter of 2016. Influenza B is the major cause of seasonal influenza epidemics every two to four years, causing substantial absenteeism, hospitalisation and contributing to high mortality rates. Given the increase in circulation of both B strains, quadrivalent vaccination offers an enhanced level of protection and substantial public health benefit.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends specific influenza virus strains to be included in the vaccine. The WHO has included quadrivalent influenza vaccines in its recommendations since 2013. And from a public health perspective, using quadrivalent rather than trivalent vaccines could result in a further reduction of up to 21 million influenza cases, 300,000 influenza-related hospitalisations and 16,000 influenza-related deaths in the US over a decade. This corresponds to a reduction of 80% of influenza B-related cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

“Influenza is present throughout the year and poses a threat in tropical countries like Singapore. Influenza viruses can spread rapidly, especially in closed environment such as inside homes, workplace, childcare/school or institutions, and can infect anyone – even healthy people. With continuous evolution of influenza viruses, it is imperative that Singaporeans opt for the quadrivalent vaccine that provides broader protection for them and their family,” said Dr Leong Hoe Nam, Infectious Disease Specialist.

Globally, influenza epidemics result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. Seasonal epidemics mainly occur during winter in temperate climates. However, in tropical regions like Singapore, influenza occurs throughout the year without very well-defined influenza seasons. In such regions, influenza is prevalent in two peaks in April-July and November-January of the following year. Each year, 20% of Singapore’s population is estimated to be clinically infected from seasonal influenza. Studies have also shown that tropical countries like Singapore demonstrate comparable influenza-related deaths to temperate USA.

Sanofi Pasteur supports influenza immunization policies and is committed to developing vaccine solutions that fit with the current influenza epidemiology. Sanofi Pasteur intends to progressively switch all its trivalent influenza vaccines to quadrivalent influenza vaccines worldwide. FluQuadri is the newest formulation designed by Sanofi Pasteur, offering a quadrivalent influenza vaccine. FluQuadri includes two A strains and two B strains to help provide broader protection for all age groups as of six months.

The Ministry of Health in Singapore recommends routine annual influenza vaccination for all high-risk groups including children under the age of five, elderly above the age of 65, those with existing chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and heart disease, care givers of these high risk groups, and all healthcare professionals. Influenza vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at reducing influenza-related morbidity, mortality and associated healthcare costs.

 

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