Sanofi Pasteur has launched a quadrivalent influenza vaccine in Singapore to coincide with a seasonal Southern Hemisphere spurt in cases for the country.
The tropical country--just north of the Equator--is susceptible to the spread of flu around the year, with the link to the Southern Hemisphere season being even stronger, according to Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist at Singapore's Rophi Clinic, who was speaking at a briefing on the launch.
Leong said his remarks were part of his regular advocacy work and stressed that he is not paid by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines unit of France-based Sanofi ($SNY).
The vaccine, FluQuadri, can be administered to ages above six months old, the company said in a release.
It is aimed at four strains of flu: the two A strains of H1N1 and H3N2, as well as both B strains dubbed "Yamagata" and "Victoria." GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) also markets a quadrivalent flu vaccine in Asia and elsewhere under the name Fluarix--but the recommended age for the shot is from three years old.
Leong stressed he wants a wider vaccination effort in Singapore because the impact of wider prophylactic coverage can severely reduce potentially deadly infections related to the flu in the most vulnerable segment of the population--i.e., toddlers and the elderly.
"Many link the flu to changes in temperature seen seasonally," Leong told reporters at the briefing. "But Singapore sees influenza cases throughout the year and it is a major tourist and transit hub, so the spread can be quite rapid."
The dense population of Singapore, Leong noted, previously faced the rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003--highlighting the ability of a virus to cause widespread disruption to the economy and people’s health. Singapore does not reimburse for flu vaccines, though its Health Sciences Authority and Health Promotion Board recommend vaccination against influenza.