[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he long wait is over. DOH Secretary Janet Garin announced on Monday in a TV interview that the long-awaited dengue vaccine will finally be available in the Philippines next week.
According to Garin, our country is the only nation in the world where three phases of the clinical trial were done. She added, “It’s a reflection of how good our researchers are.”
The Philippine government has set up a whopping Php3 billion in 2016 budget, just for the dengue vaccine alone. It’s quite expensive because, for now, there’s only one company that produces it. And it is Sanofi Pasteur.
Our country was given a discount when the Secretary of the Department of Finance met with Sanofi’s executives in November. And another discount of 34 percent was given to us after our President Benigno Aquino III met with another executive during his travel in France for the COP21.
Garin also noted that part of the sale of dengue vaccine will be used to subsidise beneficiaries of the government. Although the dengue vaccine may help save thousands of lives in the Philippines, it is only given to patients ages 9 to 45.
According to Garin, this vaccine is not intended to patients over 45 years old because they might encounter some negative interactions. The safety of the drug has not been established if it’s injected to patients who are over 45 years old.
The vaccine will be given to nine to 10 years old. These kids are the usual victims of dengue. Even though the vaccine is expensive, it could still help in saving billions of pesos per year. Bear in mind that the country spends PHP16 billion per year just to combat this disease.
Brazil Joining the Bandwagon
Apart from the Philippines and Mexico, Brazil will be joining the bandwagon to use Dengvaxia, the first anti-dengue vaccine. These three countries have authorised the use of this vaccine giving the French pharmaceutical giant a nice Christmas present.
Does the vaccine really work? In a presentation provided by Sanofi, the vaccine was able to prevent all four strains of the disease in 65 percent of 40,000 participants over the past decade. The rate of successful vaccination for the fatal strain of the disease was 93 percent.
Just like hepatitis vaccination, dengue vaccine needs rounds of injections. This means that we have to endure a hefty price tag. Generally, it would cost around PHP21,000. If you can’t afford it, the only way to prevent dengue is to avoid being bitten by the mosquito that carries dengue, which can be difficult to do.
On another note, the UN organization said that it couldn’t find grounds to issue an official recommendation for the use of this dengue vaccine.