FRENCH pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur denied Monday, December 4, that three children died after being inoculated with dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
"There are no reported deaths that are related to the dengue vaccination," said Sanofi Pasteur's Dr. Ruby Dizon.
Her statement came after Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chair Dante Jimenez said in a press conference Monday that their coordinator in Central Luzon reported that three children vaccinated with Dengvaxia have died.
Dizon, however, urged the Department of Health (DOH) to validate the said report.
More than 700,000 children have received a dose of Dengvaxia since last year under the government's dengue vaccination program.
The DOH suspended the program on December 1 after Sanofi issued a press statement, saying Dengvaxia increases the risk of severe dengue in seronegative individuals, or those who have not contracted dengue prior to immunization.
Dengvaxia, however, provides protection to people who have had dengue fever.
Sanofi global medical head Ng Su Peing advised parents to speak with doctors to understand the risks.
The Sanofi representatives said they will cooperate in any investigation into the dengue vaccine.
Dengvaxia, which is manufactured by Sanofi, is the world's first licensed dengue vaccine. It is administered in three doses at 0/6/12 month interval.
The Senate and the Department of Justice are set to probe the procurement and usage of Dengvaxia following Sanofi's advisory last week that based on clinical studies, the vaccine poses more risks to those who have not been infected by dengue prior to their vaccination.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said that Sanofi bears the legal and ethical responsibility to shoulder the health needs of the affected children and fully compensate their families.
"Sanofi urged to shoulder health needs of affected children, provide full compensation," said Hontiveros, vice chair of the Senate committee on health.
She said health officials should also be held accountable.
Hontiveros said the DOH should explain how the vaccine was acquired and why it failed to heed the apprehension and warnings of medical experts on its potential dangers.
“Implementing an immunization program that could do more harm than good to our children is the height of negligence that could border on the criminal," she added.
The DOH, which already halted the distribution of Dengvaxia, purchased the vaccines for P3.5 billion in 2016. The vaccine was licensed for use in the Philippines by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2015. (With PNA/SunStar Philippines)