Philippines halts programme for 'dangerous' dengue fever vaccine given to 730000 children

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III gestures as he answers questions from reporters in Manila Philippines Friday Dec. 1 2017. The Philippines has put on hold its dengue immunization program after new findings by vaccine manufacturer Sanof

If you haven't had dengue infection, don't use our vaccine, drug company warns

But manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted on Wednesday that new analysis of clinical data had found Dengvaxia can cause more severe cases of dengue in the longer term among people who had not previously contracted the infection.

For those who were not previously infected by the dengue virus, the analysis found that vaccination prevented severe illness for at least 30 months, Duque told reporters.

Before the current analysis, a research team previous year found that the vaccine-if given to dengue-naïve individuals-"acts very much like a natural infection but without making recipients sick".

Those who had dengue infection prior to immunization will truly benefit from the vaccine, the health authorities stressed. The company said the indicated population for the vaccine, people 9 to 45 years old, are tougher to vaccinate as part of large programs than younger children or elderly people.

Health spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said "It's totally different from the current guidelines of the WHO".

A health worker prepares to administer a vial of dengue vaccine in the Paraná state of Brazil in 2016.

Twenty-two days later, Sanofi released a report citing the serious health implications of Dengvaxia.

The company initially had high hopes for its dengue vaccine, touting it as a potential $1-billion-a-year-plus product, but initial sales last year were only 55 million euros and industry analysts have been dialing back expectations.

Health officials said they will profile those who got the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva called for accountability in the vaccine mess that could have a long-term effect to more than 733,000 children who had undergone the government's vaccination program. "The value of that has to be preserved, and our vaccination programme has to be enhanced and strengthened, and we are committed to do exactly that", he said.

"Put on hold muna tayo sa ating vaccination sa dengue", Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a media briefing on Friday.

"The DOH and the Department of Education should also closely monitor the kids that were vaccinated and ensure that proper medical support will be provided to them", he added.

"As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, I intend to call for an investigation on the disturbing findings related to the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia", he said.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, is proposing a labeling change for Dengvaxia.

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