Philippines rejects dengue vaccine as outbreak leaves hundreds dead

  • Philippines rejects dengue vaccine as outbreak leaves hundreds dead

Philippines rejects dengue vaccine as outbreak leaves hundreds dead

The Department of Health (DOH) has declared a national dengue epidemic due to the continuous surge of dengue cases in the country.

In addition, 622 deaths have been reported.

The agency said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the declaration on Tuesday to improve the response to the outbreak by allowing local governments to draw on a special Quick Response Fund.

Dengue incidence shot up 98 percent 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".

The increase in dengue cases in the Philippines comes two years after the government stopped a mass immunization programme using the vaccine Dengvaxia, manufactured by French firm Sanofi Pasteur. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Congress has also recommended further investigation into the Dengvaxia-linked deaths "for the filing of criminal, civil and administrative charges" against ex-President Benigno Aquino III and his former Cabinet officials.

There are several known dengue viruses, or serotypes, and while there is no specific treatment or cure, most people who are infected with dengue recover and become immune to the serotype to which they were exposed.

The announcement came three weeks after the DOH issued a national dengue alert following a spike in reported cases of the mosquito-borne viral disease. "This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group which is the 5-9 years of age", Duque said.

The Health department also on Tuesday launched its "search and destroy" campaign to prevent the spread of dengue.

"This is really staggering", said Francisco Duque, the health secretary. Other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices and communities will join in the effort, it said.

In Cagayan de Oro City, Dr. Adriano Suba-an, acting health director for Northern Mindanao, said 15,995 dengue cases had been monitored in the region from January to August 3, an increase of 62 percent from the same period previous year.

In South Asia, Bangladesh has been facing its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak, putting a severe strain on the country's already overwhelmed medical system.