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Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Health Sec under Aquino says Garin leadership to blame for Dengvaxia

Former Health Secretary Enrique Ona and former Health Secretary Janette Garin, photo compiled from Google
Former Health Secretary Enrique Ona shared that in the light of the issue on the Dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, the leadership that took over his, led by Secretary Janette Garin, is solely responsible for the issue.

Ona was the Health Secretary from 2010-2014.



"In the light of the Sanofi Pasteur advisory on the use of the antidengue vaccine Dengvaxia, the leadership that took over the DOH after I left in December 20, 2014 is solely responsible for all the decisions that has resulted in what is becoming to be a major health nightmare in the country today," Ona said.

The Dengvaxia, a vaccine for Dengue, was administered to 733,000 school children, from April 2016 to present, under the orders of then President Benigno Aquino III, and the leadership of Garin.

It was found out just recently, that the drug actually makes the symptoms of Dengue worse on people who have not had the sickness before.

Three deaths of school children have been reported due to Dengue, allegedly aggravated by Dengvaxia.



He said that the Sanofi Pasteur Group which is responsible for the making and distribution of the vaccine did approach him and would request a briefing on Dengvaxia "almost annually".

"I had high hopes, like many others that the vaccine being developed would eventually control this mosquito borne disease that afflicts more than a hundred thousand Filipinos (patients) annually and scares so many foreign visitors and tourists," he said.

"Unfortunately, during all this time until the end of my term, the Sanofi staff, though optimistic, never claimed that the vaccine was ready for general use and only gave a vague projection to me of the time when it may be ready for launching. I recall in more than one occasion that I mentioned in passing to then President Aquino of a possible dengue vaccine that maybe ready "anytime soon," he added.

Ona added that during his term, there were neither plans of distribution nor budget allocation for the drug as it was still in the developmental stage.



"I was out of the government in 2016 when I first heard that the DOH was going to purchase this new Sanofi Pasteur dengue vaccine, now with a brand name Dengvaxia to be given to children above 9 years and allocating "several billion" pesos, an amount more than the entire budget for all other vaccines being procured by the DOH annually!"

Ona cited an article by the New England Journal of Medicine, September 24, 2015 issue which concluded: the efficacy profile at 25 months of disease surveillance was complex. Efficacy caused by serotype 2 ranged from 67-80% and lower still for those who were seronegative at baseline. This report with a separate accompanying editorial, entitled, "A Candidate Dengue Vaccine Walks a Tightrope", by Cameron P. Simmons.

"If read by any expert in infectious diseases or public health would have made one wait for more follow up studies to further evaluate the safety and efficacy, sans cost, in short "value for money," so essential in today's health environment," he said.

Source: Antonio P. Contreras

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