Sanofi Pasteur Asia-Pacific has given in to the demand of the Department of Health and committed to shoulder the costs of “death or adverse event that is causally-related” to Dengvaxia among children inoculated with the dengue vaccine.

“Should there be any case relative to vaccination, be it death or any other case, we’ll shoulder the cost if there is causality but has been demonstrated to scientific evidence,” Sanofi Pasteur Asia-Pacific region head Thomas Triomphe said during the Senate’s third inquiry on Dengvaxia.

During the January 22 inquiry, Triomphe was asked if the company was willing pay for the costs. He noted that the decision was based on their company’s high ethics.

Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) likewise demanded that Sanofi return Php 1.4 billion worth of unused vaccine vials.

Sanofi agreed to refund the money and started retrieving the unused stocks of Dengvaxia vaccines in DOH warehouses. However, the company is yet to retrieve the stocks in Cebu and elsewhere, according to a news report.

In an interview on January 21, Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III said despite the company agreeing to refund, the department will still have to investigate if the company itself withheld information prior to the programme launch in 2016.

In an update in November 2017, Sanofi said that the vaccine could cause severe dengue if the person who received the vaccine has had no prior infection.

Cases for review

There have been 14 deaths allegedly linked to the dengue vaccine, and these have been submitted to review panels by the Health department.

The reviewing bodies include an independent review expert panel, and a cooperation with medical experts from the University of Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is also conducting its own investigation, which the DOH welcomed as complementary to their own.

About 830,000 children were vaccinated under the programme which was launched in 2016.

DOH is expecting the results of the UP-PGH probe will be released soon.

Central Luzon

In a recent update, the DOH has said it has assisted 27 vaccinated children between the ages of 11 and 16 in Central Luzon, most of them from the province of Pampanga.

The children complained of loose watery stools, fever, vomiting, cough and colds, and body pain, and were admitted to the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital.

The Health department provided ambulance transport services, screening tests for out-patients, consultations and hospitalizations through PhilHealth and the Medical Assistance Programme (MAP).

“We are very concerned about addressing the health needs of the vaccinated children and ensuring that they get immediate and quality care and management,” said Secretary Duque.

He and some department staff were in Pampanga for the dengue summit and a dialogue with parents whose children were inoculated with the dengue vaccine.

He reminded parents to immediately consult health professionals as soon as they notice signs and symptoms of dengue which include fever, rashes, joint and body pains.

“With early management we can improve the outcome of severe dengue,” the secretary added.

Dengue no longer seasonal

Secretary Duque emphasized that dengue is no longer a seasonal disease.

“Because dengue is a year-round disease in the country, dengue will continue to happen. Dengvaxia does not provide 100 percent protection, hence those vaccinated whether previously seropositive or seronegative, may still contract dengue,” said Secretary Duque.

Likewise, he reiterated that as precaution, the public should exercise the 4S preventive measures: Search and destroy mosquito breeding ground, Self-protective measures, Seek early consultation and Say yes to selective fogging during an impending dengue outbreak.

“The DOH shall continuously monitor all schoolchildren who complain of any symptom of dengue and will extend assistance to everyone in need,” he assured.

Meanwhile, about 150 parents and children in Pampanga received their Dengvaxia identification card during the dialogue. The IDs, other than for proper identification of those given the vaccine, are to enable the parents and children to get access to medical services. MIMS