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

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

After an analysis showed that Sanofi's highly touted dengue vaccine could lead to more serious infections if used in the wrong setting, the company is requesting a label change that will likely lead to fewer eligible recipients.

Filipino Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said new recommendations would be released later this month by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation, an advisory body of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sanofi recently sent out an alert saying: "For those not previously infected by dengue virus, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection". Vaccination should only be recommended when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks (in countries with high burden of dengue disease).

More than 730,000 Filipino children have received at least one dose of Dengvaxia, the first licensed vaccine for the virus, since the Department of Health launched the 3.5 billion peso (£51.5bn) immunisation drive in schools past year. People can be infected with dengue up to four times in their lifetime and they can get severely ill after any of these infections. The mosquito-borne virus can be fatal in severe cases. In a press conference in March 28 of the same year, Garin said that Dengvaxia passed thorough clinical trials and was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The company said it expected the new findings to cost it £88m. Before, spontaneous nosebleeding classifies dengue as severe.

"But then reviewing the guidelines, the ones classified by Sanofi [as severe] right now...most of the cases would not even fall under our current definition of severe", Suy explained.

"Based on up to six years of clinical data, the new analysis evaluated long-term safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia in people who had been infected with dengue prior to vaccination and those who had not". Because there are countless number of lives that have been saved from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Duque already suspended the school-based dengue immunization program, which has covered more than 700,000 Filipino gradeschoolers as of November 2017.

He said for those who received the vaccine, there has been a 93 per cent reduction in severity of symptoms, and an 82 per cent reduction in hospitalisation.

"They immunized nearly the same number as the ones vaccinated here".

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