THE world’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization recently updated their recommendation to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the continued use of the world’s first anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
In the said recommendation, SAGE affirmed the public health value of vaccination WITHOUT screening in hyperendemic settings such as the Philippines meaning vaccination without pre-screening is permissible in countries with high cases of dengue. The report specified that vaccination without pre-screening is allowed in countries with seroprevalence greater than 80% at 9 years old. Limited Philippine data showed that the seroprevalence rate in that age group is at 87% which supports vaccination without the need to pre-screen in PH. The update clarified that while pre-screen vaccination is still recommended, pre-screen tests are still being developed today.
The report further says that “the over-all population level benefit of vaccination remains favourable, but the vaccine performs differently in seropositive versus seronegative individuals.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Edsel Salvana, an infectious disease expert in the country has also emphasized the importance of the recent report as it would shed light to the confusion surrounding the vaccine today. In his Facebook page, he summarized the highlights of the SAGE update which also states that “Dengvaxia vaccine efficacy is confirmed in seropositive, in other words, it works and is effective and safe when used properly in those with previous dengue infection.”
Salvana also clarified that the SAGE report did not mention anything about the “viscerotropism” and “neurotropism” cause which the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), who in their autopsies, previously linked with children’s deaths; signifying that there is no shred of scientific evidence to support it. This also coincides with the statements of international dengue expert Dr.Scott Halstead, who mentioned in his testimony at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last March that there is no proven causal link on the said conditions to the vaccine.
In the same light, Salvana also expressed concern on the impact of the said issue to the greater public as seen in his Facebook post: “while I agree that the ones responsible should be held liable for their actions, those who wilfully and deliberately spread false and inflammatory information in media and made the parents and children panic should also be held accountable.”
The SAGE recommendation found in the WHO official website, further encourages and validates the use of the vaccine by endemic countries in their integrated dengue control and prevention strategies. The update also reveals that dengvaxia remains the only vaccine which protects individuals in high dengue endemic countries from contracting severe dengue. WHO reports around 390 million dengue infections around the world today.
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