The Philippines reasserted on Tuesday, August 6th that the world’s first dengue vaccine remains banned while simultaneously acknowledging that it is combating a mosquito-borne epidemic that has swept the nation and killed hundreds this year, AFP reported.
Dengue infections increased by 98% from one year ago to reach 146,062 cases from January 1st to July 20th with 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference, where he announced a "national dengue epidemic".
In February, Manila imposed a ban on the sale, import, and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine because of deaths, including children, among the individuals vaccinated in 2016 and 2017 in a government immunisation campaign.
Duque said on Thursday that Manila is mulling an appeal to let Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical, reintroduce the vaccine to the Philippines market. However, he said the possibility of utilising the vaccine to fight the current epidemic, which is most dangerous against children, is off the table.
"This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group which is in the 5-9 age range," Duque said.
The vaccine is approved for use in 20 countries for children aged 9 and above, according to the World Health Organisation.
Duque said the United Nations warned Manila that the vaccine was "not recommended" as a means to combat an outbreak, and it was "not cost-effective" in any way, with each dose selling for about $20.