KUALA LUMPUR: It will take time for the government to include dengue vaccination in the National Immunisation Programme, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said this was mainly due to the high cost of the dengue vaccine, which the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) had approved a conditional registration earlier in February.

“The NPRA has given conditional registration to the dengue vaccine manufactured by Takeda (Pharmaceutical) and it is already available in the private sector for the public.

“The issue is when we can include it in the National Immunisation Programme… it will take a long time to do so as we need to take into account the budget allocation (for the vaccines),” he told reporters at the Rumah Keluarga Angkatan Tentera here on Saturday (June 8).

He also said this after launching the national-level Program Gotong Royong Mega Perangi Aedes 1.0 in conjunction with the Asean Dengue Day 2024.

On Feb 8, the 393rd Drug Control Authority meeting had approved conditional registration for the Qdenga dengue vaccine, which is used to prevent dengue fever in persons aged four years and above.

It was reported that Takeda would sell the vaccine at a discounted rate in emerging markets at a one-third discount of its European pricing.

The vaccine is approved for use in Indonesia where it is priced at US$80 (about RM373.6) for a course of two shots.

Meanwhile, Dzulkefly said his ministry has submitted a request to get an allocation to expand the Wolbachia mosquitoes project to fight against Aedes.

“We would like to see a whole nation roll out (of Wolbachia mosquitoes project), and we will ensure an allocation through Budget 2025.

“We have submitted a request for the project allocation as part of the Cabinet Committee to the Combat Dengue programme.

“For the time being, each Wolbachia mosquito costs us 50sen, that’s how valuable it is,” he said.

As of last Dec, Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes have been released in 35 localities in several states such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, among others.

Dzulkefly said since the introduction of the project in 2019, 19 out of the total localities have recorded a decrease in dengue cases between 43% to 100%.

“The successful implementation of the programme has made us among the leaders in the Wolbachia mosquitoes project.

“We received visits from other countries (to learn about the project), such as a delegation from Burkina Faso who took part in a ‘crash-course’ programme with us,” he added.

Wolbachia is a bacterium and a form of biological control that is naturally occurring in 60%-70% of insects, spiders and nematodes.

It is usually introduced into Aedes mosquitoes to prevent the transmission of dengue viruses.

The Wolbachia bacteria stops the dengue virus from replicating, so the mosquito does not spread the virus when it bites.