Dengvaxia set aside as gov't declares dengue epidemic is over

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 22) – The national dengue epidemic is "over," Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared on Wednesday.

Duque said that cases of as well as deaths due to the vaccine-preventable disease decreased in the last few months.

The health chief attributed the drop in the mortality rate of the mosquito-borne viral infection to how hospitals dealt with serious cases of the mosquito-borne viral infection.

“There is progress in the particular regard, which means it is a reflection of case management of severe dengue cases of hospitals so there is a much lower case fatality rate,” Duque said in Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

He said that last year, over 400,000 cases were recorded across the country.

“We had a bad dengue year in 2019,” he pointed out.

On August 6 of last year, the DOH declared a national dengue epidemic.

The health department’s epidemiology unit reported more than 402,694 dengue cases from January 1 to November 16, an increase of 92 percent from the same period in 2018. The number of deaths also increased to 1,705 from 1,502 over that period.

Dengvaxia ‘set aside’

When asked if the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which was said to have “aggravated” the rate of immunization in the country, would be “set aside,” Duque said yes.

He defended his reply, saying the vaccine manufacturers failed to submit the requirements to make a comeback.

“Our decision to sustain the revocation of their certificate of product registration is on the basis of their non-compliance with the requirements such as the submission of the case management plan,” Duque said.

He earlier said its manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur did not submit the third and fourth versions of risk management plans, which include its report on what has been done since the Dengvaxia scare in 2017 where more than 830,000 individuals from Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila had been given Dengvaxia at least once through the country’s mass immunization program under then-Health Secretary Janette Garin’s watch.

Reports of alleged deaths from the dengue vaccine caused fear of vaccines in general, which led to a dramatic drop in the country's vaccination coverage. The Dengvaxia scare is being blamed by some for the outbreaks of measles and polio, as parents refuse to get their children immunized.

He said there is only one vaccine that they are only considering, a dengue vaccine being developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda.

But Duque said that once it becomes available, the vaccine will have to comply with the “stringent” requirements of Food and Drug Administration before the firm can be allowed to sell and distribute in the Philippines.

On August 22 last year, the DOH upheld the Food and Drug Administration's decision to the cancel Dengvaxia's CPR due to Sanofi Pasteur's failure to submit post-approval requirements.

Duque said French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur has appealed the revocation of its certificate of product registration before the Office of the President.

This means that Malacañang will have the final say on whether or not controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia could return to the shelves, he added.