By Charina Clarisse Echaluce
Based on records of the Department of Health (DOH), five more children who were vaccinated with Dengvaxia have died, driving the total to 26.
“As of January 24, 2018, from the total of 837, we have admitted cases of 725 and out of that, 26 died. From March 2016 to January 19, the reported deaths were 21. But since last week until this week, we have another five deaths. So a total of 26… from March 2016 to January 24, 2018,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Francia Laxamana disclosed in a press conference today.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, on the other hand, clarified that there have been recorded dengue deaths even before the Dengvaxia was given to the children.
“The 725, these are the AEFI, these are the Adverse Effects Following Immunization. The way to contextualize this, even without Dengvaxia, there is a case fatality ratio. May namamatay talaga dahil sa dengue. You want to do a comparison, makikita ninyo the case fatality ratio is still below one percent,” Duque stated.
Moreover, Laxamana noted that not all the 725 cases are dengue cases.
“Mayro’n kaming confirmatory…. Sa 725, ang na-confirm lang is 412 cases. So iyong iba roon hindi talaga maa-attribute sa dengue kasi nag-negative sila sa test,” she said.
‘Unfinished Dengvaxia trial’
Meanwhile, Duque said that the Phase 3 clinical trial period on Dengvaxia was not yet finished when the mass dengue vaccination program, involving over 830,000 children, began.
“Iyong clinical trial nagsimula po sometime June of 2011. That’s supposed to be a six-year study for the Phase 3 clinical trial period. That’s six years or 72 months,” he said.
The DOH chief said the officials could have just waited for the conclusion of the third phase of the Dengvaxia clinical trial before the vaccines were given to children.
“They started giving the Dengvaxia as early 2016, March. The findings on the severe dengue came out after they concluded the Phase 3 in September of 2017. So if they had waited 2017, then they would have known they can’t give these Dengvaxia to children who never had dengue in the past, because that is exactly what the advisory of Sanofi says,” he pointed out.
It can be recalled that the mass dengue immunization drive started in April 2016.
Asked if he thinks that the administration of Dengvaxia among children was rushed, he answered, “Well, it appears that based on these information, they could have waited until the phase 3 clinical trial concluded.”
On November 29, 2017, the Sanofi Pasteur announced a “new finding” on its vaccine Dengvaxia.
“The analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection…. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection,” Sanofi said in a previous statement.
On December 1, 2017, Duque put on hold the government vaccination drive.