Saturday, 16 December, 2017

Binay calls for nationwide info drive on controversial dengue vaccine

Sanofi's dengue vaccine slams into a safety issue, triggering a $120M write-off and eviscerating old blockbuster If you haven't had dengue infection, don't use our vaccine, drug company warns
Ben Pena | 01 December, 2017, 16:06

The Philippines has vaccinated more than 733,000 children with Dengvaxia since 2016 when it became the first country to start using it on a mass scale.

Sanofi said Thursday its dengue vaccine might worsen the disease for those who have not been previously exposed to the dengue virus, but safe for those who had a prior infection.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday the program is on hold pending recommendation to be released on December 12 or 13 by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization, an advisory body of the World Health Organization.

It warned that the vaccine may cause "more severe dengue cases" on those who may contract the disease for the first time.

For those who had previously contracted dengue, data showed that Dengvaxia provided persistent protection.

For those who were not previously infected by the dengue virus, the analysis found that vaccination prevented severe illness for at least 30 months, Duque told reporters.

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Despite the suspension, Duque said "vaccination is essential to the integrated approach in dengue prevention and control".

But he said the department would strengthen its ongoing surveillance of those who received Dengvaxia and would investigate any cases of people falling ill.

Khristine Estrada-Cabanayan, a Sanofi spokeswoman in the Philippines, said the company is working closely with the Department of Health and will release a statement to address concerns regarding the vaccine.

The new clinical data, which has been collected over a period of six years, evaluated the long-term safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia in people who had been infected with dengue prior to vaccination and those who had not.

Health officials have earlier said the vaccine is capable of lowering severity in dengue cases by 93 percent and reduces hospitalization rate by 82 percent.

"So the vaccine is not available in public programmes in Thailand", she added. The vaccine is now recommended in most dengue-endemic countries for people over age nine.

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