Health chief calls for mass testing of children given Dengvaxia

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File photo of Dr. Francisco T. Duque III as he speaks at the Governance forum at the Philippine International Convention Center, Manila on September 26, 2012. -- BW FILE PHOTO

Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque on Tuesday, March 13, said the agency is coordinating with University of Pittsburgh and University of Hawaii to formulate serodiagnosis kits for children who were given the Dengvaxia vaccines.

“We’re looking for a technology transfer so that we ourselves develop it,” he said during the Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy.

Dengue research expert Scott B. Halstead said the DoH should test the vaccinated children to identify who were “seronegative” or those who has not had a previous dengue illness. According to the analysis of Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine may pose health risks for those vaccinated without having dengue or seronegative individuals.

“I was saying 830,000 children should be tested.That sounds like a lot of work,” he said, also noting that the mass testing could be also be “unrealistic.”

He also suggested for a vaccine booster to take the children out of health risks.

“Hopefully somebody could try to push for, try to find a booster… a booster dose different from Sanofi,” he said.

Mr. Duque also said DoH would also be hiring 500 surveillance officers who would be monitoring affected children in areas where the mass immunization program was implemented. — Camille A. Aguinaldo