Fate of Dengvaxia comeback to be determined after studies – Duque

By Betheena Kae Unite 

The decision of the government to restore the Dengvaxia vaccine program is expected to be determined within 10 days after certain studies and protocols are looked into, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN) Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Duque said they will be talking with the Dengvaxia task force which is composed of experts from the UP-Philippine General Hospital about the possible return of the controversial vaccine in the Philippines.

He said they are looking to arrive into a decision as soon as possible or within about 10 days but there should be a consensus among all sectors “because a lot of groups have varying positions about this.”

“Dapat itong mga ito pulungin at magkaroon ng consensus building para ang lahat ay sumang-ayon at suportahan anuman magiging decision. Maganda may consensus. Tingin ko mga 10 araw (These groups should all talk and have a consensus so that all should agree and support the decision. It’s better to have consensus. I think it will be within 10 days,” Duque said when asked for a timetable before they could decide on the recommendation to bring back Dengvaxia.

The Health chief also said that a Cabinet meeting was slated Monday to discuss the matter.

“I will present the dengue situationer and recommendation on Dengvaxia. As what the President and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, Dengvaxia must be studied whether it should be used in the country or not,” Duque added.

It should also be discussed whether changes must be enforced if the government decides to bring back the vaccine, noting that this is not an easy decision to make considering its history.

“Hindi talaga simple ang decision dahil madaming implication dito. May mga nakasuhan pa nga e. Pero tandaan natin, hindi lang naman bakuna ang solusyon sa dengue (This is not a simple decision because this has a lot of implications. Officials were even charged over this. But we must also remember that vaccine is not the sole solution for dengue),” the secretary pointed out.

Amid growing dengue cases in the country, former health secretary Janette Garin and Doctors for Truth and Public Welfare have recommended to make Dengvaxia available to physicians so they can offer it to patients.

Garin, now Iloilo representative, and other former health officials are facing criminal charges over the deaths of schoolchildren who were vaccinated with the controversial dengue vaccine.

Read more: Palace says Duterte open to proposed revival of Dengvaxia program