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Anti-dengue vaccine in Philippines 'may worsen symptoms'
04 December 2017, 01:38 | Lena Norman
Philippines puts dengue immunization program on hold
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said: 'We will leave no stone unturned in making those responsible for this shameless public health scam which puts hundreds of thousands of young lives at risk accountable'.
The office of the Philippine president vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the dengue immunisation programme, which said it placed lives at risk.
French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur on Wednesday admitted clinical data showed Dengvaxia - the first licensed dengue vaccine - could make the disease worse in people who had not previously been infected with the virus.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque has said his department would track the medical history of the thousands of children who were vaccinated and intensify its surveillance to ensure proper care would be given to anyone who may need it.
But several researchers have warned that the vaccine could trigger antibodies in a naïve subject that enhance the ability of a second infection to cause severe disease, including a deadly hemorrhagic fever.
Roque said the DoH has not reported any case of dengue infection among those who received the vaccine a year ago.
Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate's committee on health, told reporters he wanted to know as well if there was any irregularity in the procurement of the vaccine.
"We understand the concern of our people, especially the parents and the relatives of public elementary children residing in Regions III (Central Luzon), IV-A (Calabarzon), and NCR (Metro Manila), where the dengue vaccination initiative was launched by the previous administration", Roque said.
"However, we call on all citizens not to spread information that may cause undue alarm", Roque said.
He added that the health department was checking hospital records for acute cases of dengue. The Philippines meanwhile participated in all three phases of the clinical trials for the vaccine.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said further recommendation will be released on December 12 or 13 by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization, an advisory body of the World Health Organization.
The vaccine, intended for the 9-to-45-year-old age group, was introduced to the Philippines as it was reported to help reduce the incidence of dengue in the country.
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