EU regulator recommends use of Valneva's chikungunya vaccine

(Reuters) -The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended Valneva’s single-dose chikungunya vaccine for use on Friday, setting it up as the first preventive shot against the disease in Europe.

EMA’s recommendation for the French firm’s vaccine Ixchiq comes as the mosquito-borne disease, for which no approved drugs exist, has been spreading due to climate change.

While environmental conditions in Europe are not yet favorable for chikungunya, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warns of potential risks, citing the influx of potentially infected travelers and a population that could be susceptible to it.

By April end, chikungunya globally affected about 240,000 people, mostly in the Americas, Asia and Africa, and led to over 90 deaths, according to ECDC.

Valneva said the European Commission, which usually follows the EMA’s recommendation, is expected to decide on the vaccine in the third quarter of 2024.

Ixchiq received the U.S. health regulator’s nod in November last year, making it the first preventive shot to be approved in the country.

The EMA’s recommendation was based on late-stage trials where the vaccine-induced antibody levels that could neutralise the chikungunya virus in 98.9% of participants for 28 days post-vaccination.

Currently, the World Health Organization recommends bed rest with mosquito netting, fluids, and the use of Acetaminophen and Paracetamol to treat the symptoms of chikungunya.

The chikungunya virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

(Reporting by Christy Santhosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Ravi Prakash Kumar)

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