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Senate must probe DOH purchase of dengue vaccine, says Ejercito

The Senate Blue Ribbon and Health Committees must probe the Department of Health’s procurement of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, said Senator JV Ejercito on Friday, one day after the vaccine’s manufacturer announced it may cause “severe disease” to those who have not been infected prior to vaccination.

"That should be investigated by Blue Ribbon Committee as primary, with Committee on Health as secondary committee since it’s about corruption and accountability," Ejercito said in a tweet.



On Thursday, pharmaceutical company Sanofi said the vaccine Dengvaxia is only safe and effective in the long run for people who have been infected with dengue before they were vaccinated.

"Based on up to six years of clinical data, the new analysis evaluated long-term safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia in people who had been infected with dengue prior to vaccination and those who had not. The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection," Sanofi said in a press statement.

"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," it added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said the dengue vaccination program has been put on hold after the manufacturer of the vaccine raised health concerns.

"Pinahinto muna natin. We're putting on hold ang dengue vaccination program hanggang magkaroon tayo ng rekomendasyon mula sa expert panel ng WHO—World Health Organization—na sa kasalukuyang tinutugunan itong advisory mula sa Sanofi Pasteur," Duque said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV on Super Radyo dzBB.

Ejercito was replying to Dr. Anthony Leachon, a health reform advocate and the independent director of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, who raised that the DOH and Congress must be alerted for the government reportedly spent P3.5 billion on the said vaccine.

The procurement of the vaccine was already questioned in congressional inquiries towards the end of 2016 for the amount that was spent on it, and for its initial target demographic of a million children, when similar programs supposedly needed only 20,000 to 30,000.

In November, however, the DOH said it is “ethically bound” to complete the dengue vaccination program. —Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/KG, GMA News