Health Ministry to review controversial dengue vaccine

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 05 Jul 2018

A Manila Health officer shows off a pair of vials of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in Manila, Philippines. -AP filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will review the world’s first dengue vaccination amid controversy that it had worsened the disease in some patients and had resulted in the deaths of children in the Philippines.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the Government was waiting for the results of research papers on whether the Dengvaxia vaccine is beneficial.

“We are not just looking at reducing dengue cases, but we must (also) study this in terms of cost effectiveness," he said at a press conference on the sidelines of the third Asia Dengue Summit on Thursday (July 5).

Dr Lee said the approval of the new vaccines must be guided by three principles - safety, efficacy and its cost effectiveness.

However, Dr Lee said whether the Government chooses to use it or not, a study will first be conducted on its economic viability.

Dengvaxia is being developed by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pastuer.

The summit’s organising chairperson, Prof Datuk Zulkifli Ismail, said that it had not been certified that the deaths in Philippines were directly caused by the vaccine.

“We want to see what is the real cause of the deaths,” he said.

He added that there were currently two more dengue vaccines in the pipeline, but they werestill in the research phase.

Meanwhile, Dr Lee said the country has been showing a downward trend in dengue cases and deaths for the past two years.

He said in 2016 and 2017, dengue cases decreased by 16% and 17% respectively, while mortality reduced by 29% to 25%.

Dr Lee said in 2018, a total of 32,435 dengue cases with 53 deaths were reported from January until June 30 compared with the same period in 2017 where 49,726 cases with 100 deaths were reported.

Dr Lee expressed concern that dengue cases may increase in June and July, as well as December due to the festive holidays, which results in people in travelling from one location to another.

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