MALACAÑANG on Wednesday, July 31, was amenable to the proposed revival of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccination program amid the declaration of a nationwide dengue alert.
In a chance interview with Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the current administration would consider any preventive measures for dengue, including the possible relaunching of Dengvaxia immunization.
"We're always open to anything that will benefit the Filipino people. We're not closed to any suggestion," the Palace official said.
"Certainly, if the weight of the finding show[s] that there is benefit in using Dengvaxia against dengue, then certainly, the government should consider it," he added.
A total of 106,630 dengue cases were recorded nationwide from January 1 to June 29 this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
This was 85 percent higher than the 57,564 cases reported over the same period in 2018.
In a separate interview on Wednesday, former Health secretary and Iloilo Representative Janette Garin said the dengue outbreak could have been prevented by the Dengvaxia vaccination drive.
Dengvaxia immunization was discontinued in December 2017 after manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur revealed findings that Dengvaxia may cause a severe case of dengue in inoculated children who have not contracted the virus yet.
Garin encouraged the Department of Health to reinstate the immunizaton of Dengvaxia to prevent the spread of dengue in the country.
Over 800,000 children received Dengvaxia shots under the inoculation program during Garin's leadership in April 2016.
In March 2019, Garin and several others were indicted for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide because of the death of patients inoculated with Dengvaxia.
Panelo said Garin's suggestion needs to undergo "thorough" and "extensive" scrutiny.
"Well, that has to be discussed thoroughly and extensively and we need experts to support any call or return of Dengvaxia," he said.
"Kasi if you will notice, 'yung mga expert, hindi nagkakasundo diyan. Merong nagsasabing pwede, may nagsasabing hindi pwede. So we need to thoroughly investigate exactly the situation involving Dengvaxia," Panelo added.
(Because if you will notice, the experts have varied opinions. Some say the program can proceed, some say it cannot. So we need to thoroughly investigate exactly the situation involving Dengvaxia.) (SunStar Philippines)