Following a scare in the Philippines over the world’s first vaccine to prevent dengue fever, vaccination rates in the nation for some preventable diseases have dropped to as low as 60 percent in recent years, according to BBC News.
Last year, after the deaths of 14 children who had received its Dengvaxia vaccine, the French company Sanofia warned that the inoculation could worsen the disease in those who had never contracted it previously. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that:
“Until a full review has been conducted, WHO recommends vaccination only in individuals with a documented past dengue infection.”
Dengue fever is among the top causes of serious illness and death for children in many Asian and Latin American nations, according to the WHO. Four hundred million people contract dengue fever each year.
According to the nation’s Health Under-Secretary, Enrique Domingo, many parents are now avoiding other vaccinations for their children, for diseases such as polio, chicken pox, and tetanus. Domingo said he fears the repercussions of potential epidemics, in an impoverished nation of 100 million people.
Out of 800,000 children who received the Dengvaxia vaccination in 2016 and 2017, 14 later died. The government stopped the vaccinations last year, and began an investigation into the cause of these deaths.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Doctors for Public Welfare (DPW) stated on Saturday that a review by Philippine General Hospital forensic pathologists found no connections between the vaccine and the deaths.
A statement from Sanofia said:
“The University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital expert panel confirmed… that there is currently no evidence directly linking the Dengvaxia vaccine to any of the 14 deaths. In Dengvaxia clinical trials conducted over more than a decade and the over one million doses of the vaccine administered, no deaths related to the vaccine have been reported to us. Clinical evidence confirms dengue vaccination in the Philippines will provide a net reduction in dengue disease.”
However, another statement from the company last year warned:
“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.”
According to Sanofia, its dengue fever vaccine is registered in 19 countries, and launched in 11, including the Philippines.