There is no going around it: If it is bad for the people, then it has to go.
Public health and safety require it.
It is a basic obligation of the State to its citizens---promote the general welfare.
Quite fortunately, the Duterte administration was quick to undo a health project initiated
during the Aquino administration because of potentially hazardous impact on public health and safety.
And so the government said Friday it had suspended a landmark public vaccination program for
the potentially deadly dengue virus after its manufacturer warned it could worsen the disease in some
French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi announced Wednesday that its world-first dengue vaccine
could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected.
The Philippines has vaccinated more than 733,000 children with Dengvaxia since 2016 when it
became the first country to start using it on a mass scale.
But it said Friday the program had been suspended.
"In the light of this new analysis, the DoH (Department of Health) will place the dengue
vaccination program on hold while review and consultation is ongoing with experts, key stakeholders,
and the WHO (World Health Organization)," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
Sanofi had initially said its Dengvaxia vaccine was "critical" in the fight against dengue,
the world's most common mosquito-borne virus.
It said Wednesday that a new study has confirmed Dengvaxia's benefits for "those who had prior
"For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the
longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue
infection," Sanofi said.
Duque stressed that the government had not yet received reports of any problems with
"Currently, there is no reported case of severe dengue infection among those who received the
vaccine," he told reporters.
Duque said the new findings did not mean all those who have never been infected would get
severe dengue if they were vaccinated.
But he said the department would strengthen its ongoing surveillance of those who received
Dengvaxia and would investigate any cases of people falling ill.
Despite the suspension, Duque said "vaccination is essential to the integrated approach in
dengue prevention and control."
Asked about any legal liability that might arise from the vaccine, Duque said "our legal
services plan to review the contract" with Sanofi.
The WHO said in a statement that in the light of the new findings, "as a precautionary and
interim measure, WHO recommends that Dengvaxia is only administered to subjects that are known to have
been infected with dengue prior to vaccination."