Mass dengue immunization program 'premature': specialist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2017 12:35 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2017 12:39 PM

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MANILA - Launching a mass immunization program using dengue vaccine Dengvaxia was "premature," due to lack of evidence of its adverse effect, a specialist said Monday.

Public safety was "not really considered" when the Department of Health launched the program, which was supposed to be administered in three phases at 6-month intervals beginning April 2016, Dr. Mary Ann Lansang told lawmakers investigating the procurement of the vaccine.

"The secondary endpoint was severe dengue and hospitalization, which the clinical trials were not powered enough, the sample size was not enough to show significant differences in the vaccine group and the placebo group," she said.

"The absence of evidence is not proof that it is absent," she added.

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

The government has since procured P3-billion worth of the vaccine intended for a 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 DOH earlier this month suspended its vaccination program after Sanofi Pasteur admitted that its Dengvaxia vaccine may cause "more cases of severe disease" if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne illness before.