Aquino faces Senate probe on Dengvaxia mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 14 2017 10:13 AM | Updated as of Dec 14 2017 12:46 PM

MANILA - Former president Benigno Aquino III joined Thursday a Senate investigation into his administration's dengue vaccination program that is now at the center of a health scare. 

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee invited Aquino to its hearing to shed light on the procurement of the vaccine Dengvaxia after manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted that it may cause "more cases of severe disease" if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne illness before. 

Aquino will be asked to explain his 2 meetings with Sanofi officials before the program's approval, said Senator JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate health committee. 

"Hindi naman ito kuwestyon whether legal o hindi; more on ethical ba ito o hindi," he told DZMM ahead of the 10 a.m. Senate hearing. 

Some 730,000 public school students received Dengvaxia under the Aquino government's immunization program, which was suspended earlier this month. 

The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the vaccine for individuals aged 9 to 45 years old in December 2015. 

The government procured P3.4 billion worth of Dengvaxia intended for 1 million public school children in areas reported to have the highest incidence of dengue in 2015: in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON regions. 

The vaccine was to be administered in 3 phases at 6-month intervals beginning April 2016.

Sanofi has said that only 1 out of 10 Filipinos have no prior history of dengue and are the only ones facing the risk of contracting severe dengue. 

Watch a live streaming of the hearing here