Leave it to experts to assess Dengvaxia use, Robredo says

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Vice President Leni Robredo (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — It's best to defer to medical experts on the use of controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, according to Vice President Leni Robredo, amid a nationwide outbreak of the disease which has now left 622 people dead.

The vaccine was believed to have put at risk of contracting a "severe disease" around 800,000 students who were immunized in 2016 through the dengue immunization program, which led to its market ban in February.

"Mayroong mga kumokontra, mayroong mga nagsasabi na magiging epektibo lang iyan doon sa nagkaroon na or na-expose na, etcetera. Pero sa atin, magde-defer tayo sa mga experts. Magde-defer tayo doon sa mga nakakaintindi," Robredo said in her weekly show BISErbisyong LENI.

[Translation: There are those who reject it, there are those who say the vaccine would only be effective to those who previously had dengue, etcetera. But for us, let's defer to the experts. Let's defer to those who understand.]

The Vice President said doctors who handle infectious diseases have recommended to make the vaccine available on a voluntary basis, adding that issues hounding Dengvaxia should no longer be politicized.

"Kung ayaw, eh ‘di huwag. Pero iyong gustong mag-avail, payagang mag-avail," Robredo added.

[Translation: If they don't want to avail, then don't. But those who want to should be allowed to do so.]

The Public Attorney's Office, led by Atty. Persida Acosta, had conducted autopsies on children who died after being immunized with Dengvaxia. Their 2018 findings showed "strong links" between Dengvaxia and the deaths, although those findings remained inconclusive.

Acosta has been publicly speaking out on Dengvaxia's effectivity on news reports, despite not being a doctor. Her office even filed cases against government officials, heads of vaccine manufacturer Sanofi-Pasteur, and distributor Zuellig Pharma after alleging to have been involved in the deaths of over a hundred children.

The President last week said he was open to allowing Dengvaxia's return to the market, noting that even his own daughter has been immunized with it.

Robredo's call against notions on Dengvaxia comes as the Health Department reconsiders the re-entry of the vaccine, after the Food and Drug Administration revoked its certificate of product registration in February.

Dengue cases have almost doubled in the past year, prompting the government to declare a nationwide epidemic.