MANILA, Mar 31 (Mabuhay) – The government will push through with the giving of free and new dengue vaccines to public school students next week even without any recommendation yet from the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a media conference on Thursday, Dr. Rose Capeding, head of the Department of Microbiology at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), assured that the new vaccines are safe.
Capeding was the principal investigator from the Philippines who was part of the three phases of the vaccines’ clinical trials.
First to receive the free vaccines on Monday will be select nine-year-old students from public schools in CALABARZON (Regions 4-A), Central Luzon (Region 3), and Metro Manila.
The vaccination would come even if the WHO, through the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, is still reviewing data on the new vaccines and has yet to come up with comprehensive recommendations on how to use the vaccines.
WHO country representative Gundo Weiler said the WHO would need these recommendations before it comes up with any statement on the new dengue vaccines.
Weiler said for now, the WHO has a “neutral position” on the vaccines, but clarified it does not mean they think the vaccines are unsafe.
Weiler clarified that despite the absence of such recommendations, the Philippines could still push through with the vaccinations.
Weiler assured the government that the WHO would be helping the Department of Health in investigating any adverse effects of the vaccines.
DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy echoed Weiler’s statement, saying the international health organization supports the government’s decision to push through with the vaccination even without an official recommendation from the SAGE.
Health Secretary Janette Garin revealed that the number of dengue cases in the first 50 days of the year has increased by 13.2 percent compared to the same period last year.
Garin said from last year’s 16,606 cases, dengue cases rose to more than 18,700 from January 1 to February 20 this year. CALABARZON recorded the highest number with 3,182 followed by Central Luzon Region with 2,596 and Metro Manila with 1,479.
The DOH earlier said it would start giving free dengue vaccinations to public school students on Monday, April 4, and will last for 20 months.
Each student will be given three doses of the vaccine. The vaccination program will last for 20 months.
The vaccine for four types of dengue is already available in some private hospitals and government storehouses. The vaccine was developed and manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur and distributed by Asia’s Zuellig Pharmaceutical.
Testing began in the Philippines in 2005 and took place at San Pablo City and Cebu City. About 145 children and adults participated in phase one of the study and 200 to 250 took part in phase 2.
At least 3,501 children participated in the efficacy trial or CYD14 stage (phase 3), the stage before the post-marketing release (phase 4). A total of 10,275 individuals from Asia alone participated in the CYD14 trials.
From phase one to phase three, 40,000 individuals were tested in 25 clinical studies in 15 countries. Studies into the long-term efficacy of the vaccine will continue until November 2017.(MNS)