PARIS, April 19 (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation on Thursday said Sanofi's vaccine against dengue should only be used after testing individuals to assess whether they could have been exposed before to the infection.
After a long-awaited two-day meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, experts at the specialized agency of the United Nations said the medicine should be now dealt with in a "safer way."
"We have now clear information that the vaccine needs to be dealt in a safer way by using it exclusively in people already infected," Alejandro Cravioto, Chair of the WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization, told journalists.
After new analysis of data, Sanofi warned in November the vaccine could increase the risk of severe dengue in some cases in people who had not been previously exposed to the disease.
Mosquito-borne dengue is the world's fastest-growing infectious disease, afflicting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It causes half a million life-threatening infections and kills about 20,000 people, mostly children, annually.
Sanofi's vaccine, marketed under the brand Dengvaxia and the world's first licensed against dengue, is the centre of a health scare in the Philippines where the government suspended its use last year amid widespread safety fears.
A vaccination campaign using Dengvaxia has also been taking place in the state of Parana, Brazil. (Reporting by Matthias Blamont, Julie Steenhuysen ; Editing by John Irish)