ISSUE: Dengvaxia, a vaccine manufactured to protect hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren from dengue, may actually have put their lives at risk. Ten percent of more than 800,000 students who were injected with Dengvaxia, but did not have a prior dengue infection, now face the possibility of contracting a “severe disease,” according to the latest advisory from the vaccine’s manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur. After the announcement, the Department of Health (DoH) stopped its nationwide dengue immunization program and demanded billions in pesos in refund for the vaccines. Now, both Congress and the justice department are trying to dig deeper into the controversy, with officials from the current and previous administrations pointing fingers at each other.
Please read sequence of events (courtesy of CNN Philippines) in the
Dengvaxia controversy: Please see the pattern of premeditated coercion to fast-track its adoption and use. I just compiled and highlighted the most important dates.
January 21, 2016. The Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) makes a ₱3-billion purchase order for the vaccines without approval from the Formulary Executive Council.
February 3-11, 2016. Garin issues a certificate of exemption for Dengvaxia vaccines to be utilized in the pilot implementation in the National Capital Region, Region III, and Region IV-A. The Philippines, under Janette Garin, hosts the worldwide launch of Dengvaxia.
March 2016. The World Health Organization (WHO) releases a report saying Dengvaxia “may be ineffective or may even increase that risk in those who are seronegative at the time of first vaccination.”
(Seronegative pertains to people who have not yet had dengue.)
The WHO calls for more studies into the vaccine.(This was apparently ignored by the DoH.)
March 8-9, 2016. Garin issues a ₱3-billion disbursement voucher to the PCMC to fund the purchase of the vaccines. The PCMC issues its purchase order to Zuellig Pharma, the distributor of Dengvaxia.
(Note the speedy response of PCMC.)
April 4, 2016.The government kicks off its ₱3.5-billion, school-based dengue immunization program. The health department says students would be given three doses, which would be administered every six months.
July 2016.The WHO releases another paper, saying Dengvaxia “may act as a silent natural infection that primes seronegative vaccinees to experience a secondary-like infection upon their first exposure to dengue virus.”
In other words, the WHO says the vaccine “may be ineffective or may theoretically even increase the future risk of hospitalized or severe dengue illness in those who are seronegative at the time of first vaccination regardless of age.”
That same month, former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial issues a resolution temporarily suspending the school-based dengue immunization program.
(Only the 489,003 pupils who received the first dose would take the second and third doses.)
September 2016.The DOH (under Ubial) moves to continue the vaccination program. That same month, the Medical Research Council Center for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London releases a study saying Dengvaxia could lead to an increase in the number of cases of the disease if not implemented correctly.(Apparently, this was disregarded.)
“Unlike most diseases, the second time you get dengue, it’s much more likely to be severe than the first time you get it,” said the center’s director Neil Ferguson.
October 2016.The Singapore Health Sciences Authority flags “postulated risk” of Dengvaxia.” As the vaccine is more effective in those who had previous dengue infection, that there is a postulated risk of severe dengue in those who do not have past dengue infections when they become infected,” it said.
November-December 2016. The House of Representatives probes the allegedly anomalous purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine. It also recommended that the DoH temporarily suspend the expansion of the vaccination program, pending completion of data collection, evaluation, and analyses on “adverse effects.”
The Senate launches its own investigation into the dengue vaccination program, saying the project cost was too big and was approved without congressional approval.
November 29 to December 1, 2017.Sanofi-Pasteur announces the results of new clinical data analysis, which found that Dengvaxia is more risky for people not previously infected by the virus. Following Sanofi-Pasteur’s announcement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd orders the temporary suspension of the dengue vaccination program.
December 4-5, 2017.The justice department orders the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the dengue vaccination program. The FDA suspends the sale and distribution of Dengvaxia.
The WHO says it never recommended to countries the use Dengvaxia in their national immunization programs.
December 7-11, 2017.The health department says it will return around 800,000 leftover Dengvaxia vaccines, worth P1.4billion, to Sanofi. DoH calls for a refund of the P3.5 billion it paid for the vaccines, adding it has created a task force to look into the program.
That same day, the House and the Senate announce they will again investigate the dengue vaccination program. The probe began on Monday, December 11.
The Senate blue ribbon committee under Sen. Richard J. Gordon starts its investigation into the Dengvaxia issue. Former health secretaries Garin and Ubial, as well as current Health Secretary Duque and Sanofi officials, were among those present.
Noting that only one other country, Brazil, dared acquire the new vaccine should have raised red flags all over, Gordon said.
Please discern these events very carefully to form your own views on the matter.
Good work, good deeds and good faith.