Luczon: Dengvaxia revisited

LAST Saturday, February 17, my article on this column titled "Dengvaxia dilemma: Making conspiracy theories real," was chosen as the Best Science Commentary for Print and Online in the first University of the Philippines Science Journalism Award.

The science award was organized by the UP community composed of the Communicating Science and Technology Research and Development of UP, with the professors and dean of UP College of Mass Communication. This is part of the Emerging Interdisciplinary Research program under the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs of the UP System.

The award goes with a special trophy, which was designed by the late National Artist Napoleon Abueva. Perhaps the trophy was one of the last artworks he made, making it more valuable. He died the day before the awarding ceremonies.

But beyond the award, it is the story that should linger in the public consciousness.

My winning story, which was published last December 2017, was about the premise on the current Dengvaxia controversy that might affect people's trust in other vaccination programs promoted by the Department of Health (DoH).

And indeed, we have come to this as soon as 2018 started. Some groups of medical professionals have been calling the government for more objective probe on the matter as they claimed that there have been reports of parents not trusting anymore vaccines administered by the DoH.

Recently, a group of medical doctors specializing in pathology said that the deaths of children are not entirely conclusive that it was the Dengvaxia vaccine, which was produced by pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, that caused it.

This is a sad state actually, men and women of medicine and sciences are divided because of political standpoint and not because of true scientific reasoning. Just like what is happening now that some scientists still argue whether climate change is man-made or not.
Again, the World Health Organization, of which the Philippines is part of, has the position that vaccines are important. However, these should undergo series of tests and certifications.

Dengvaxia may not have undergone this yet, that is why people behind the deal between Sanofi and DoH should be held accountable. In fact, there's a need for all stakeholders to let the public draw the lines on which vaccines are safe, and those not.

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