Pangilinan appeals: ‘Listen before we judge’ amid anti-dengue vaccine controversy
The public should listen first before they judge.
This was the statement of Liberal Party (LP) President Senator Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday amidst the controversy involving the P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccination program of the Department of Health (DOH) that is feared to have put at risk the health of thousands of children, who were immunized even without prior infection of dengue.
“Let us first listen to independent health experts before we judge,” Pangilinan said in a statement. “If lawyers have their own individual interpretations of the law, the same is true of the medical community, which will have different opinions on this health issue.”
Last Friday, the DOH suspended its anti-dengue immunization program as review and consultation are ongoing with experts, key stakeholders, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This developed after French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur announced on Wednesday that its vaccine “could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected” by Dengue virus, and that a new study confirmed its benefits for “those who had prior infection.”
In 2016, the DOH launched the anti-dengue vaccination program, in line with the recommendation of the WHO, in highly endemic areas in Luzon. Over 700,000 individuals had received at least one dose of Dengvaxia.
“Of course Sanofi will say that the vaccine is safe. The same will be for former and current health officials who endorse the said vaccine. Those who oppose will also present their contrary arguments,” Pangilinan pointed out.
The lawmaker said it is better to listen and get information from the WHO and other countries that approved the use of this vaccine, which are: Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Peru.
“Did their citizens experience adverse effects from the vaccine? Was the vaccine also questioned in their countries? Are they holding their officials accountable?” Pangilinan asked.
“After we’ve gathered the long and short of the issue, and concluded that some fell short, then we hold into account those who were negligent and failed to conduct due diligence,” he added.
The anti-dengue vaccination drive was launched under the leadership of former Health Secretary Janette Garin. /kga
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