DOH says it is open to reviewing Dengvaxia data, benefits

(File photo courtesy of WHO)

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH is open to reviewing the data and benefits of the Dengvaxia vaccine as dengue cases continue to rise in the country.

Vergeire’s delaration came on the heels of infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante;s statement that it is high time for the government to review the benefits of the vaccine which is the prevention of hospitalization and prevention of severe dengue.

“The government together with the Department of Health is always open to new technology especially if evidence can show  it can really protect our population,” Vergeire told an online media forum.

The certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia was revoked in 2018 following the announcement of its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, that its administration “may lead to more severe symptoms among those who have never been infected by the dengue virus prior to vaccination”.

“For us to be able to bring back this kind of vaccine, its efficacy evidence must already be complete and there are processes and studies which must be done to do all these,” Vergeire said.

She added the manufacturer must also be compliant with the country’s regulations apart from careful study and inputs from health experts. Fifteen out of the country’s 17 regions have exceeded the dengue alert or epidemic threshold from May 29 to June 25, 2022.

The 15 regions are Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, and the National Capital Region.

The Ilocos Region has yet to reach the threshold. The Caraga Region has previously passed the threshold in April 2022 but was not sustained and has gone back below the threshold.

“When the area exceeds the epidemic threshold, it means, its  number of cases is more than what has been expected because we compare our trends or number of cases from the previous years’ cases at that same time period,” Vergeire said.

The current dengue situation is now “worrisome” as cases rise in most regions alongside growing Covid-19 infections, she added. Dengue affects mostly persons 15 years old and below.