Dengue is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease in the world. It occurs in tropical land and subtropical areas of the world. It causes nearly 400 million infections annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a major public health problem in the Philippines and is endemic in all regions of the country. In December 2015, Dengvaxia, the world’s first vaccine against dengue virus developed by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, was licensed and approved for use in the Philippines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is given in three doses six months apart via subcutaneous to selected Grade 4 public school pupils in three regions with the highest number of dengue cases. The Department of health said more than 700,000 public school fourth graders had received the first of three doses of the vaccine under a P3.5-billion program.
It all started as a peaceful breakthrough until November 29, 2017 when Sanofi released a public statement regarding to Dengvaxia performance based on prior infection. It stated that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had experienced Dengue or had prior infection. However, for those who not previously infected by Dengue, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent Dengue infection. For individuals who have not been previously infected by Dengue virus, vaccination of Dengvaxia should not be recommended. Around 10% of over 800,000 students who were immunized with Dengvaxia, but did not have a prior dengue infection, now face contracting a severe disease. According to forensic experts 14 children died in the 6 months’ term after vaccinated. However, it is still undergoing investigation if it is related to Dengvaxia.
In all, After the controversial statement of the Sanofi, the Philippine government decided to pull out the said vaccine and sue the Sanofi to reimburse all the unused Dengvaxia. Meanwhile, both Congress and the Justice Department are digging deeper into the controversy, with officials from the current and previous administrations pointing fingers at each other. The distrust of experts stems from the fact that in the case of Dengvaxia, the experts have so spectacularly failed the people on a matter of public trust: the experts in Sanofi for rushing a dangerous vaccine to the market, and the experts at the DOH for carrying out a mass vaccination program that they knew – or should have known, given the published findings – carried grave dangers for many of its intended recipient’s