President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he is open to the use of Dengvaxia again after the Department of Health (DOH) declared a national dengue epidemic due to the alarming rise of the mosquito-borne disease.
“Yes, I am open to the use of Dengvaxia again. Maraming patay na (Many died already), it’s an epidemic,” Duterte said in a media interview after an event in Malacañan Palace.
Duterte admitted, however, that he remains in a quandary whether or not to lift the ban on the use of Dengvaxia.
“Ako (me), I’d rather go on the side of science. If nobody would believe me, still I would say that if there is anything there in the Western medicine and even itong herbal ng mga (even this herbal of the) Oriental if it would mean saving people’s lives, I’ll go for it,” he told the Palace reporters.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III on Tuesday (Aug. 6) declared a National Dengue Epidemic in the wake of 146,062 cases recorded since January to July 20 this year.
Duque said the reported cases are 98 percent higher compared to the same period in 2018.
The DOH said there are also 622 dengue deaths recorded this year.
“Now compare it vis-à-vis with those who died, I want to hear the words of the experts, doctors. And we have enough bright people here to tell us. I do not need foreigners to tell me, my own Filipino scientists and doctors would tell me what to do. I will be guided by their announcements,” Duterte said.
Last week, a group of doctors urged the DOH to lift the ban on Dengvaxia to address the increasing cases of dengue in the country.
In February this year, DOH’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permanently revoked the certificates of product registration issued to Dengvaxia over failure of vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur to submit post-approval papers.
In 2017, the government stopped its dengue immunization program using Dengvaxia after Sanofi came out with advisory which said patients who had no prior exposure to dengue virus could suffer severe symptoms if vaccinated with Dengvaxia. PNA