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World Health Organization backs Philippines suspension of Sanofi's dengue vaccine

05 December 2017

Yesterday, the Philippines government ordered an investigation into the immunisation of more than 7.3 lakh children with the company's dengue vaccine.

Representative Office Philippines on Tuesday clarified that it did not prescribe in mid-2016 the use of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in the Philippines' national immunization program. In the meantime, WHO supports the Philippines Department of Health's (DOH) decision to suspend the ongoing vaccination programme until more information is available. It said its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization would meet to review evidence next week.

According to United Kingdom public broadcaster the BBC, Sanofi said in a press conference in Manila on Monday that there had been no reported deaths related to its dengue vaccine in the Philippines.

Citing results of an assay test co-developed with the University of Pittsburgh, a Sanofi Pasteur India spokesperson told PTI, "For those not previously infected by dengue virus, the analysis found, in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection".

"These included the following: first, use of the vaccine should only be considered in areas where a high proportion (preferably at least 70%) of the community had already been exposed to the virus; second, the vaccine should only be provided to people 9 years of age and above; and third, people being vaccinated should receive 3 doses", it said.

The developments have left families of children that been given the vaccine extremely concerned.

The Department of Health has recommended that she be moved to a Manila hospital for closer monitoring, but Bayugo said she had shown signs of improvement with her platelet count recovering.

The recent findings outline that sales forecasts may not be reached over the safety issues and clinical proofs that show unequal protection against various strains of dengue.

The WHO said on Monday it hoped to review safety data this month on Sanofi's dengue vaccine which the company said was approved in 19 countries and launched in 11.

The country's public immunization program was suspended on Friday.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease that kills about 20,000 people a year and infects hundreds of millions.

World Health Organization backs Philippines suspension of Sanofi's dengue vaccine