|Credit Philippines DOH|
After being offline earlier today, the Philippines Department of Health website is back up and running, and has posted the following press release on today's announced safety concerns over with Sanofi's Dengvaxia® Dengue vaccine (see Philippines Halts Dengue Vaccine After Sanofi Issues Warning).
Press Release/ December 1, 2017
The Department of Health (DOH) today discloses its plans in light of the new analysis on the Dengue vaccine being used in the country’s vaccination program.
Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are acute viral infections that affect infants, young children, and adults. It is transmitted by a bite of an Aedes aegypti mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue serotypes: Den-1, Den-2, Den-3 and Den-4.
In 2016, the DOH launched the dengue vaccination initiative in three highly endemic regions (Regions III, IV-A and NCR) with over 700,000 individuals receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. This immunization program is in line with the recommendation of the World Health Organization for mass vaccination in highly endemic countries.
On November 29, 2017, the DOH received a preliminary briefing on updated information on the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, from Sanofi Pasteur. Based on the report, the Dengue vaccine has shown consistent and sustained benefit for those who were previously infected with the dengue virus.
For those who were not previously infected by the dengue virus, the analysis found that vaccination led to a benefit in preventing severe illness for at least 30 months. In the longer term, severe cases may occur following a subsequent dengue infection among those who were not previously infected.
In the light of this new analysis, the DOH will place the dengue vaccination program on hold while review and consultation is ongoing with experts, key stakeholders, and the WHO.
The DOH is highly committed in strengthening and intensifying its ongoing surveillance and monitoring to evaluate the program and ensure safety.
An average of 200,000 cases of Dengue is reported every year. Vaccination is essential to the integrated approach in dengue prevention and control. Currently, there is no reported case of severe dengue infection among those who received the vaccine.
“The DOH assures the public that it is serious in carrying out its mandate to always guard the health and well-being of its constituents. Thus, it shall ensure that vaccines are always safe and effective to optimize its health benefits,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated.
Despite this safety signal for a specific subset of dengue naive recipients, the vaccine otherwise appears to be working well in those previously infected. It is probably going to take some time to unravel exactly what has happened here and the best way to proceed going forward.