A panel of experts from the Philippine General Hospital has recommended the suspension of the dengue vaccination program since the Dengvaxia vaccine is not 100 percent effective.
The vaccine's efficacy rate is only 60 percent and this rate is low compared to the cost of the vaccine, the panel said as revealed by Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo in a press conference on Friday, according to a report on Balitanghali by Chino Gaston.
The panel said the funds allotted for the vaccination program may be better used in other anti-dengue measures such as cleaning of environment and ensuring that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus do not grow in number.
However, the panel noted that even if the use of Dengvaxia caused problems, it remains to be effective against dengue for those who have had the disease before.
As for the deaths among schoolchildren who have been inoculated with Dengvaxia, further study is needed to determine if there is a correlation with the said vaccine.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they will still discuss what the recommendation of the Department of Health will be in light of the results of the PGH expert panel's study.
Given the results, the DOH may continue the vaccination since the vaccine has been proven effective against those who have had dengue in the past. Some of the recipients of the vaccine were not able to complete the required four doses. The problem, however, is that the remaining supply of Dengvaxia vaccines has already been pulled out.
The DOH earlier said that at least 830,000 public school students have been inoculated with Dengvaxia in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Cebu.
The vaccination program was put on hold following Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur's advisory that the vaccine should not be given to patients who have not had dengue in the past as it may cause severe diseases in the long run.
Sanofi Pasteur has since been fined P100,000 and its Dengvaxia registration certificate suspended.
Meanwhile, the deaths of 14 children who were given Dengvaxia vaccine are being investigated.
Domingo said the autopsies conducted by the Public Attorney's Office on the remains of schoolchildren who were inoculated with Dengvaxia and died due to dengue do not give evidence that the deaths were due to the vaccine.
He added that PAO should also examine or conduct autopsies on the remains of children who died of dengue but were not given Dengvaxia to determine if the findings will be the same. —KG, GMA News