Sanofi updates information on dengue vaccine

Glen Mclaughlin
December 2, 2017

THE Department of Health (DoH) said on Friday that it would suspend its dengue immunization program after its supplier revealed that its vaccine may cause a more severe case of dengue fever. "For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection". So, when a person encounters dengue naturally after a previous vaccination, their immune system could process it as a second infection that's much more severe, according to the team from Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Florida.

Based on the report, the Dengue vaccine has shown consistent and sustained benefit for those who were previously infected with the dengue virus. The company said the indicated population for the vaccine, people 9 to 45 years old, are tougher to vaccinate as part of large programs than younger children or elderly people. Sanofi Pasteur stressed that the vaccine still protected against dengue fever when it was given to people who had prior dengue infections.

Health spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said "It's totally different from the current guidelines of the WHO".

The health department, nonetheless, is reviewing its contract with Sanofi.

More than 730,000 Filipino children have received at least one dose of Dengvaxia, the first licensed vaccine for the virus, since the Department of Health launched the 3.5 billion peso (£51.5bn) immunisation drive in schools a year ago.

At least 730,000 children have already received the first of three doses of the vaccine as of Nov 17.

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The minister said the government will profile all those who received the vaccination and heighten its surveillance mechanisms.

Senate Committee on Health chair Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito said he intends to conduct a Senate inquiry on Dengvaxia with the Blue Ribbon Committee by January next year, where present and past Health secretaries Secretary Francisco Duque and Ubial, respectively, will be invited. We want their official definition of what is "severe". "Sanofi should also be made accountable for their haphazard release of the drugs without complete and proper clinical studies".

"They immunized nearly the same number as the ones vaccinated here".

The DOH, on the other hand, said the pharmaceutical company must clarify their definition of "severe dengue".

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, is proposing a labeling change for Dengvaxia.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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