MANILA Former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Monday said he would have suspended his administration's dengue immunization program if he knew the adverse effects of the vaccine to individuals who never had prior dengue infection.
During the House hearing on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, Aquino said French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur made a complete turnaround in its initial promise of vaccine efficacy against all four dengue serotypes.
"Ang pangako ng Sanofi, ginawa nila iyung apat para sigurado na nga na mawala na 'yung risk na mas malalang impeksyon (Sanofi's promise was to create a [vaccine] for four [dengue serotypes] to ensure that there is no risk of severe infection)," Aquino said.
Sanofi, in its November 2017 advisory, however warned against administering Dengvaxia to patients without any dengue history, saying "more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination."
"Parang baligtad na baligtad doon sa sinabi nila noong una... Sa baligtarang sagot, talagang dapat ihinto (This is completely different from what Sanofi said before... On hindsight, [the vaccination program] should have been stopped)," Aquino added.
Aquino earlier in the hearing justified the procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccine, citing the alarming rise in dengue cases in 2015.
Under Aquino's administration, the Philippines became the first country in the world to launch a public inoculation plan against dengue in April 2016.
The DOH has since suspended the anti-dengue immunization drive, after pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur conceded that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms in vaccinated children who contracted the disease for the first time.
More than 700,000 Filipino school children had already received their Dengvaxia shots by the time the DOH suspended the immunization drive.
Source: Philippine News Agency