Dengue fever vaccine scare after warnings

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Roque issued the statement a couple of days after the DOH announced the suspension of its dengue vaccination program in light of new analysis by manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur that Dengvaxia, the first dengue vaccine to be licensed, could cause severe dengue among those who have not been infected with the virus prior to immunization.

As Reuters and several other news outlets have reported, France's Sanofi Pasteur released a statement that said a 6-year analysis of people who received the vaccine found more severe disease occurred in people who initially were naïve to the virus. While Sanofi's Dengvaxia is the first-ever approved vaccine for dengue, scientists already recognised it was not ideal and did not protect equally against the four different types of the virus in clinical tests.

"However, we call on all citizens not to spread information that may cause undue alarm", Roque said. The Department of Health (DOH) halted on Friday the use of a dengue vaccine made by Sanofi after the company said its use must be strictly limited due to evidence it can worsen the disease in people who have not previously been exposed to the infection.

In Thailand, authorities have allowed the vaccine to be used in private hospitals on a case-by-case basis since September 2016, but it is not yet approved for state facilities, said Suchada Jiamsiri, deputy director of the health ministry's Division of Vaccine Preventable Disease.

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"The Department of Health is now working in close coordination with the Department of Education to monitor the thousands of students who have been administered with Dengvaxia", Roque said.

Dengvaxia is the culmination of over two decades of scientific innovation, collaboration, and research involving 25 clinical studies in 15 countries around the world.

Asked about any legal liability that might arise from the vaccine, Duque said "our legal services plan to review the contract" with Sanofi.

In December 2015, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration granted marketing authorization of the vaccine, making Philippines the first country in Asia to approve licensure. More than 730,000 children, ages 9 and up, received one dose of the Dengvaxia vaccine previous year.

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