Senate blue ribbon committee to probe dengue vaccine controversy

Leslie Hanson
December 7, 2017

Ejercito has filed Senate Resolution No. 557 directing the proper committee to conduct an inquiry into the dengue immunization program of the DoH vis-à-vis Sanofi Pasteur's new clinical finding on the vaccine Dengvaxia's adverse effects to its recipients.

The WHO, which issued a report identifying the vaccine's safety risks in mid-2016, recommended it only be used in people who had prior dengue infection.

The best course of action is still a combination of eradicating the sources of mosquitoes including stagnant water and preventing mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent products because these are seen as very effective measures against not only dengue but also other mosquito-borne diseases including Zika, he said.

The agency suspended its dengue vaccination program after learning that the vaccine poses risks to those who have not yet contracted the disease.

The symptoms of severe dengue include fever lasting for at least two days, low platelet count, bruising and severe bleeding. Severe dengue is among the leading causes of death in many Southeast Asian and Latin American countries.

Meanwhile, a public body close to France's health ministry previous year advised against the use of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine in the country's overseas territories now at the center of a health scare, regulatory documents have shown.

Healthcare professionals here have been issued advisories on a dengue vaccine which could be harmful to people not previously infected by the virus.

Those who were vaccinated and later became infected could have "more cases of severe disease", Sanofi said in an alert earlier this month.

"The overall benefit of vaccination in a highly endemic setting such as what we have here in the Philippines is still in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for vaccination introduction", she said.

"You have to look at the local data, local epidemiology, the burden of the disease in the country, what proportion of the population in a given country have had previous dengue".

The press conference came after the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) announced that it would put on hold its dengue immunization program until "experts are able to review new developments on the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine".

He added the government might also demand Sanofi set up an "indemnity fund" to cover the hospitalisation cost for children vaccinated under the public programme who would fall ill.

Concerns surrounding the vaccine, sold by French drugmaker Sanofi, have prompted the Philippines to halt its sale and suspend a government program to immunize hundreds of thousands of children.

The government has bought 3 billion pesos (S$79.7 million) of Dengvaxia intended for one million public school children in areas reported to have the highest incidence of dengue in 2015: in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon regions.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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