WATCH | NAST scientist: Risk of severe dengue from Dengvaxia gleaned as early as Sept 2015

March 13, 2018 - 11:21 PM
Vials of Dengvaxia. File photo/Bernard Testa, News5 | InterAksyon

Dr. Anthony Dans, a scientist from the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), told a Senate inquiry Tuesday there was already an effort as early as September 2015 to look into the potential predisposition in certain vaccinated persons to increase the possibility of becoming afflicted with dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Dans said he had found it “striking” that in November 29, 2017 the drug manufacturer Sanofi alluded to a “new analysis” showing the risk to sero-negatives (those who never had dengue prior to injection with the vaccine Dengvaxia), implying seeming mental dishonesty on the part of the manufacturer in making it appear the risk was newly discovered.

See also related stories reported by Reuters:

Exclusive: Philippines defied experts’ advice in pursuing dengue immunization program

Philippine senator criticizes ‘reckless disregard’ in dengue vaccine program

Dr. Scott Halstead, a dengue specialist, was invited to the 7th public hearing of the Senate over the Dengvaxia controversy.

Halstead was the U.S. based scientist who warned on issues related to the level of effectiveness of mass immunization using the vaccine.

Halstead said: “I had made a suggestion that before Dengvaxia is given to everybody, there should be test. Everybody said ‘ha ha ha’ that is impossible, nobody have done that before. But I am sorry, that’s not ‘ha ha ha’, that’s possible.”

Dr. Halstead clarified that Dengvaxia is deemed safe for seropositive subjects, or those who had a previous dengue infection, but the situation was not the same for seronegative subjects, or those who had never contracted dengue previously.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard Gordon remarked that the government did not undertake due diligence when it went ahead and implemented the school-based and community-based mass immunization program.

“Sanofi was able to bring out the Dengvaxia vaccine, but our government was in a hurry, maybe because of the upcoming election, or maybe because of some other reason. When parents don’t know what is going to hit them when their children were inoculated with Dengvaxia, that is unfair.”

Gordon was alluding to the big problem of giving the right information to parents before allowing their children to receive the vaccine.

When asked what would be the best thing to do for children who received Dengvaxia, Dr. Halstead said they should be closely monitored or given a booster dose.

He even advised the public to still trust the effectiveness of vaccines as a whole. “We don’t want to make people feel that vaccines are dangerous. I have been a pro-vaccine person my entire life. We do not want vaccines to be injured by this.”

During the Senate inquiry, according to NAST’s Dr. Dans, severe cases of dengue from children who have received Dengvaxia can start unraveling this year if the two-year initial protective period of the vaccine, which was given starting 2016, holds.

But he scientist clarified that this can still be controlled somewhat, especially if people maintain clean surroundings, thus moderating the tendency of carrier mosquitoes to reproduce excessively. If you control mosquitos, you can lower the risk of dengue even better than with the vaccine … It’s not as if we’re helpless. There’s something we can do about it. The parents need to appreciate this.”