MANILA- Politics will be set aside in the government’s review of the possible return of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in the market, Malacañang assured Filipinos Friday.
The government earlier expressed openness to making Dengvaxia available again in the market following a spike in dengue cases in the country.
“Nothing is final yet but we vow that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past, where Dengvaxia was allegedly misused and mishandled in aid of political election with haste,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Friday.
“Politics must be set aside when the health of the citizenry is in peril. This Administration will not sit idly and expect that a health concern will be resolved without any action on its part,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration permanently revoked the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia in February, about a year after Sanofi admitted that the drug can cause more severe symptoms among those who have not had dengue.
Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur, however, has appealed the revocation.
In the possible reintroduction of the dengue vaccine, Panelo said the government would act with “utmost caution” and would consider the opinion of the World Health Organization and medical experts.
“If Dengvaxia is proven effective to those who already had dengue in the past, then its application to these individuals will surely cause the decline of the overall number of cases of dengue which plague the residents of this country,” he said.
Reports of alleged deaths due to Dengvaxia have spawned a vaccination scare that led to a drop in immunization coverage in the country to 40 percent last year, from an average 70 percent in recent years.
Several cases have also been filed over the deaths of some who were injected with Dengvaxia, but it has not been established whether the fatalities were caused by the vaccine.
Panelo meanwhile noted that while the government is considering a revival of the Dengvaxia vaccines, cases over the government’s halted anti-dengue immunization program will continue.
“In this connection, a possible revival of Dengvaxia for those previously infected with dengue virus does not mean that pending cases against former officials involved in the issues surrounding the vaccine will be rendered moot. We will continue to leave this matter to courts of law as they decide the merits of the case,” Panelo said.
Recently, former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin called for the return of Dengvaxia amid the rising number of dengue cases.
She was among those who faced nationally televised hearings on Dengvaxia, which was given to some 830,000 school children during the term of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.