SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito yesterday underscored the need to investigate the purchase of Dengvaxia dengue vaccines by the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Ejercito said it is but proper for former President Aquino to explain the basis of buying the vaccines or what convinced them to push through with the vaccination program.
Senator Grace Poe for her part said the belated findings of Dengvaxia developer Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine despite being commercially available is not recommended for those without prior infection of dengue came a year after foreign health experts warned of potentially higher risks if the vaccine is not administered correctly.
The Philippines under the Aquino administration was the first Asian Country to approve the sale of the world’s first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
The Department of Health (DoH) under then Secretary Janette Guarin in 2015 launched a school-based immunization program in highly affected areas with 800,000 public school children that reportedly received at least one dose of the three-shot vaccine.
Poe said the DoH should focus on the kids given the shots and determine if any medical intervention is needed given the information about the vaccine’s effect.
Senate Resolution no. 563 called for a full-blown investigation into why the inoculation program was hastily approved despite the fact that the vaccine was still undergoing trials.
Poe said the government should be ready to create a comprehensive database of people who have been injected with Dengvaxia, including those who have prior exposures and determine any adverse effects following the immunization.
Both Senator Poe and Ejercito urged Sanofi Pharmaceutical company to explain and said Sanofi must be held liable for selling vaccines that are still undergoing clinical trials.
Both the DoH and the pharmaceutical company, Poe said, must be equally accountable for any problem that may arise from their manufactured vaccines.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee, together with the Senate health committee will investigate the procurement of the controversial vaccines.
Gordon said the issue is not just about the money spent by the government but the health of the children that were put at risk.