Medicine

Manila to sue Sanofi over dengue vaccine

Manila to sue Sanofi over dengue vaccine

Child advocate Senator Grace Poe on Thursday called the attention of the Department of Health (DOH) to monitor those children who have been immunized with the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia on possible adverse effects that may arise.

The DOH suspended its dengue vaccination program last December 1 after Sanofi Pasteur announced that its Dengvaxia vaccine increases the risk of severe dengue in people who have not contracted dengue prior to immunization.

A draft report by House of Representatives committee on health, which conducted hearings on the efficacy of the vaccine, reported that "there were 997 adverse events following immunization, 30 of which were considered serious cases that needed hospitalization" between March 18, 2016 and August 20 previous year.

While a first infection with one of the four dengue virus serotypes is typically mild, a second infection with a different serotype can cause severe disease; it is thought that the body's immune response to the first infection enhances the second. The child, he added, has recovered after having been managed effectively by physicians. In addition, DOH will demand Sanofi to cover the hospitalization of those who will contract severe dengue from the vaccine.

The symptoms of severe dengue include fever lasting for at least two days, low platelet count, bruising and severe bleeding.

As for people who have already received dengue vaccine shots, he said, they should not worry too much about the possible side effects that have been reported in the news because not everyone will develop them.

Dr Suwanchai said while waiting for the World Health Organization to formally react to the matter, all the DDC could do is assure people who have already acquired dengue immunity after a previous infection that they will experience less severe symptoms after getting the shot.

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However, Ng does not recommend the vaccine for those who have never been infected with dengue virus.

He said they have also heightened their surveillance to be able to monitor and analyze the data.

She added that dengue infection can be hard to discern, as the majority of infected individuals show no symptoms.

"We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring our children for any adverse event following immunization, and will strengthen the readiness of our public hospitals in attending to any severe dengue cases that may occur", he said.

According to the senator, the DOH "should exercise more prudence before approving mass vaccination" especially that "the agency is set to introduce new vaccines under its expanded program on immunization, such as that for Japanese encephalitis".

The task force will be composed of top management officials from the DoH central office, regional offices of affected areas, attached agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and PhilHealth, and the National Children's Hospital.