Recent Approaches in Hantavirus Vaccine Development

Piet Maes; Jan Clement; Marc Van Ranst

Disclosures

Expert Rev Vaccines. 2009;8(1):67-76. 

In This Article

Five-year View

With the worldwide distribution of hantaviruses together with the low incidence of hantaviral infections in most parts of the world as discussed earlier, there is significant doubt that generally accepted, effective hantavirus vaccines will be commercially available or even in development within the next 5 years. Unfortunately, hantavirus vaccines are not an attractive commercial value for pharmaceutical companies. For example, in Belgium, with a population of roughly 10 million people, approximately 140 people develop a hantavirus disease each year, with no fatalities described so far in a total of more than 2000 registered cases.[8] The demand for a readily available vaccine could become more stringent in the years to come, however, particularly in Europe. Indeed, from a pattern of localized and limited outbreaks, the annual incidence of NE has risen in several western European countries to an almost epidemic level, showing marked 2-3-year cycles. This new, epidemiological presentation has been linked to global warming, implicating that the rising trend observed since 2000 could even be enhanced in the near future (Clement J et al., Manuscript Submitted). In the USA, approximately 500 HPS cases have been described, and this within a population of more than 300 million people. In China and Korea, the available inactivated vaccines succeeded, according to certain sources, to reduce the incidence of HFRS, although these results are still controversial. Although vaccination would be an eminent strategy to protect against hantavirus infections, in most countries or geographical areas, the best prevention would be an improved awareness of hantavirus disease in general. In fact, simple and cheap preventive measures, as applied by American forces during the Bosnian War, have shown the capacity to reduce casualties to almost nil, even in military at risk on the field in a highly endemic country.

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