Tuesday November 19, 2019

Philippines Bans World’s First Dengue Vaccine

Manila banned the sale, import and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine in February following the deaths

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Philippines, Ban, Dengue
FILE - Parents of children injected with Dengvaxia vaccine carry pictures of their loved ones as they attend a senate hearing regarding the vaccine at the Senate building in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 21, 2018. VOA

The Philippines stood firm Tuesday on its ban on the world’s first dengue vaccine while declaring a nationwide epidemic from the mosquito-borne disease that it said has killed hundreds this year.

Dengue incidence shot up 98% from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference in which he announced a “national dengue epidemic.”

Manila banned the sale, import and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine in February following the deaths of several dozen children who were among more than 700,000 people given shots in 2016 and 2017 in a government immunization campaign.

Duque said Thursday the government is studying an appeal to allow French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi to put the vaccine back in the Philippine market, but ruled out using the drug to combat the ongoing epidemic, which has hit small children hard.

Philippines, Ban, Dengue
The Philippines stood firm Tuesday on its ban on the world’s first dengue vaccine while declaring a nationwide epidemic from the mosquito-borne disease. Pixabay

“This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group which is the 5-9 years of age,” Duque said.

The vaccine, now licensed in 20 countries according to the World Health Organization, is approved for use for those aged nine and older.

Duque said the United Nations agency also advised Manila that the vaccine was “not recommended” as a response to an outbreak, and it was anyway “not cost-effective” with one dose costing a thousand pesos (about $20).

Dengue, or hemorrhagic fever, is the world’s most common mosquito-borne virus and infects an estimated 390 million people in more than 120 countries each year — killing more than 25,000 of them, according to the WHO.

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The Philippines in 2016 became the first nation to use Dengvaxia in a mass immunization program.

But controversy arose after Sanofi disclosed a year later that it could worsen symptoms for people not previously infected by the dengue virus.

The disclosure sparked a nationwide panic, with some parents alleging the vaccine killed their children.

Philippines, Ban, Dengue
Dengue incidence shot up 98% from a year earlier to 146,062 cases from January 1 to July 20, causing 662 deaths, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference. Pixabay

The controversy also triggered a vaccine scare that the government said was a factor behind measles outbreaks that the UN Children’s Fund said have killed more than 200 people this year.

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Duque on Tuesday called on other government agencies, schools, offices and communities get out of offices, homes and schools every afternoon to take part in efforts to “search and destroy mosquito breeding sites”. (VOA)

Next Story

Supreme Court Orders Ban on Construction and Demolition Works in National Capital Region

The order by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta came while hearing matters related to air pollution, which has turned severe

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The court also banned garbage burning and asked civic bodies to prevent open dumping of garbage. Pixabay

As construction and demolition works are major contributors to air pollution, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered levy of a fine of Rs one lakh against those involved in such activities and Rs 5,000 against those caught burning garbage in the National Capital Region.

The top court directed that no demolition and construction activities should take place in Delhi and the NCR, and that local administration would be held personally responsible in case of violation.

The court also banned garbage burning and asked civic bodies to prevent open dumping of garbage.

The order by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta came while hearing matters related to air pollution, which has turned severe.

Supreme Court, Ban, Construction
The top court directed that no demolition and construction activities should take place in Delhi and the NCR, and that local administration would be held personally responsible in case of violation. Pixabay

When the bench was told that beside stubble burning, construction activities and garbage burning are major cause of air pollution in the national capital, the court asked state governments and civic bodies to penalize the offenders.

Amicus curiae Aparajita Singh told the court that despite directions, construction and demolition are being carried out in the national capital. She also pointed out that restrictions on the construction works are only visible in the newspaper.

Raising objection to the submission, the counsel appearing for the government said there is a complete ban on construction work and it is being followed.

Officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and an IIT Professor also apprised the court that about the material being used in the construction activities.

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The top court, after hearing all the parties, directed that a high-level committee should hold a meeting today itself and discuss every issue which contributes to pollution, including construction works and also crop residue fires. The court said a report should be placed before it on Wednesday. (IANS)