THE Aquino administration spent P3.5 billion for the last-minute procurement of a newly registered dengue vaccine and administered it on Filipino schoolchildren despite the objections of health experts and scientists, Sen. Richard Gordon claimed on Tuesday.
At the hearing of the Senate finance committee on the proposed 2017 budget of the Department of Health (DOH), Gordon questioned health officials about the vaccine procured by the agency just three months after it was registered with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
“I’m shocked that we spent on something that we become a guinea pig,” he said.
The Philippines was the first country in Asia to administer the vaccine on schoolchildren aged nine and above.
The vaccine, developed by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, was registered with the FDA on December 22, 2015. The government procured it in March and used it to inoculate children in Regions 3, 4-A, and the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) in April this year.
Mexico has also used the vaccine.
Health officials admitted that there is no way to determine if the vaccine reduced dengue infections because the children only received one of three doses.
“There has been an awful lot of questions about this sudden undue haste in providing dengue vaccine. It might imperil the child or might render the vaccine inutile,” Gordon said.
He noted that the previous government acquired the vaccine despite objections from epidemiologists, scientists and other health experts. The money used to procure the vaccines did not come from the department’s budget, the senator added.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told senators the money used to procure the vaccines came from the Department of Budget and Management.
Gordon said he is planning to file a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into the matter.