Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Understanding Dengvaxia and knowing the perpetrators behind it

The Dengvaxia vaccine issue, undeniably, is one of the biggest health issues that prevailed in the Philippines. With numerous claims, criticisms, and speculations on the true nature of the vaccine, most if not all affirming the threats and risks associated with the injected antibody, the Filipinos more importantly the parents could not help but worry and vex on the safety and welfare of their kids.

A hot issue as it truly is, the social media sphere recently protruded with numerous Dengvaxia-related posts and statuses all in the light of sharing public sentiments and elucidate certain facts and logic behind the controversy.

One of those who had elaborately dealt on the Dengvaxia-vaccine controversy was Krizette Laureta Chu, a well-known writer and a distinguished critic. In her relevant post, Chu revealed her obsessive inclination to Dengue-related undertakings as well as her utmost support to the Dengvaxia vaccination project since the project took off last year.

The writer also discussed the pros and cons of the Dengvaxia vaccine and conclusively affirmed that should any untoward complications and blunders arose from this issue, the people has no one else to blame but the former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III himself vis-à-vis his appointed former Health Secretary Jeanette Garin and all others with direct involvement and participation in the issue. 

Chu’s elaborate Facebook post reads:

“I have been an advocate for dengue awareness since 2009 when a loved one almost died of dengue, needing 22 bags of platelets so that the platelet count would go up or bleeding to death would have happened. 

Because of my fear of dengue I've researched almost obsessively about it. There are only a very few things in life that completely obsess me. Dengue is one of those. Maybe it's post traumatic stress disorder, I don't know. 

But I've volunteered to write scripts about dengue for campaigns, I've written articles for dengue awareness on international sites, I've interviewed experts, and during Yolanda, one of the biggest donations I searched for was for anti mosquito lotion. It was so important to me. 

So when Dengvaxia, the first dengue vaccine was launched, I attended almost every event talking about it (I know, obsessed right.) I was ecstatic that an anti dengue vaccine was available. After all, it took 20 years to develop at a cost of nearly a billion dollars. They had 40,000 people tested over more than a few countries. 

I was there at Parang Elementary School in Marikina when Jeanette Garin injected the first kid with the first dose of Dengvaxia. 

The Philippines is the number one country in most infections in endemic countries. We needed that product badly, and we needed it yesterday. 

There is no question about the legitimacy of Dengvaxia. It did not set out to fool people. I have talked to Dr. Rose Capeding, the head researcher for the PH, the executives of Sanofi Pasteur, and the health workers trained for this. It checked out.

In the Dengvaxia research, there were 3 phases. The vaccine has passed all 3 phases successfully that i could be launched last year after 20 years of research. 

The Philippines was the first, and for a long time ONLY, country that made Dengvaxia a public health program. Meaning the government spent for the inoculation of more than 1 million children.

So where did the Aquino government go wrong? Not in its decision to inoculate the children because if we could afford to vaccinate our kids, we should, especially that dengue is one of the biggest killers of our children, and that dengue is endemic to our country. 

Is it in trusting sanofi to produce the vaccine that works? No, sanofi is a world leader in the pharma industry. Sometimes we slam BIG BAD PHARMA, but medicines and vaccines do help us. And no vaccine, none, NONE, is 100 percent effective. Not even your regular flu shot. And many medicines and vaccines are a work in progress. Many medicines have been recalled or are found out to be bad, like your regular Montelukast, an anti asthma pill, which is allegedly bad for the mental health of children. And yet it's heavily prescribed. 

What went wrong is that Aquino and Garin did it haphazardly. 

For one, there's the timing. Dengue vaccination is to be taken in 3 shots in between 6 month intervals. They injected the public school kids in March. The government decided to inject kids just before summer. How on earth can they monitor them in the next 2 months? You have to remember, the vaccines were already paid for, so Dengvaxia was not responsible for the monitoring as this was no longer a clinical trial.

It was also 2 months before election. Sanofi, the maker of the drug, does not deal with politics, and yet because Garin couldn't wait and released the P 3.5 billion, which if I remember was originally earmarked for another department or project, this became a highly politicized issue when it is merely a health one.

Second, Garin was negligent and careless. The parents of the first kids to be inoculated were given a waiver to sign, but were not given a seminar or a short talk about what to expect or what to watch out for. These were just waivers. Not to be insulting, but these are parents of public school kids! These are not your middle class parents who will call their pedia and double check! They most probably don't have pedias on call, and have put their trust in the school and the LGU. 
 Again, this is no longer the pharma company's lookout but our own government's. These were not clinical trials but actual vaccination programs. 

The truth is, private practice pedias were already injecting patients with Dengvaxia before the mass based public school program--but pedias like these have intimate knowledge of their patient's history. They also can request for testing to check if a child already has had dengue, if a parent requested it. 

Most pediatricians I talked to were in favor of Dengvaxia, and no not for money, but because these are battle scarred people who've seen so many children die from Dengue. 

Our previous government decided to do this with little, if any safeguards in place. 

I am still hopeful that Dengvaxia is able to someday soon perfect the vaccine (although as I said there is no perfect vaccine), and I believe that it is earnest in finding the cure for dengue, which has claimed so many lives. It wouldn't spend so much for a drug that doesn't work, and from what I read, the reason it took so long to produce was because hindi nag aagawan ang companies to produce vaccines for illnesses that are heavily concentrated on Third World countries (remember they started research 20 years ago when SG, Malaysia, etc weren't the economic powerhouses it is now.) 

That is why Ubial and her successor had to continue Dengvaxia because you have to finish the 3 doses. Di naman nila pwede iwan.

As a matter of fact there's a Japanese company that's developing their own anti dengue vac, and I think it's going to come out soon. 

We need a good anti dengue vaccine, and Dengvaxia is still a good vaccine for those who already had prior infections. 

It's just unfortunate that it was Garin and Aquino who spearheaded the program.

Under a better and good leader, without hidden agenda and greed, we would have been able to maximize the potential of this pioneering breakthrough.

For the record, I solely blame the Aquino government, Garin and Aquino most of all, if there's any fuckup resulting from the improper handling and processing of Dengvaxia.” Chu ended assertively.

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