Sanofi, the maker of a dengue fever vaccine, which is suspended in the Philippines following a recent study that showed more of a risk of severe cases for people without a prior infection, said on Monday it was working with officials to address the fears and share new information.
The Department of Health in the Philippines put its public dengue immunization plan worth $69.5 million on hold after the release of the study last week. The immunization drive was the first of its kind in the world.
Sanofi Pasteur, based in France, said its follow-up, long term study of the Dengvaxia vaccine has showed sustained benefits for as many as six years for those people who had dengue infection previously, but that in people who had never had the sickness had increased risks of suffering a severe case as well as possible hospitalization starting the third year following immunization.
Over 730,000 children in the public school system 9 years of age and older in three regions in the Philippines with dengue fever rates very high, have already received the first dose and possibly more of the vaccine, which is the first dengue vaccine that is licensed.
The global medical chief of Sanofi Pasteur said that today the company would not recommend the vaccination to someone who has not had a previous infection.
She said that in places with high incidence of dengue, such as the Philippines, where more than nine of 10 children between the ages of 9 and 14 have been infected with the virus prior to adolescence, the benefits of having the vaccination outweigh potential risks to individuals who have not been infected prior to the vaccine.
The Sanofil doctor said that out of 100 people that are infected by dengue, just 25 typically have symptoms.
Sanofil officials said that most of the study’s participants that did not have previous dengue infection and fell ill suffered cases that were milder by two to four times of severity.
There were no cases for the most severe level and all people stricken by dengue in the Sanofil study fully recovered.
The Philippines Health Secretary said the country would wait until December 12 or 13 for the release of a recommendation by a World Health Organization advisory body.
The general manager in the Philippines for Sanofi Pasteur Ching Santos said the company started sharing the new information with stakeholders, including healthcare professionals and would cooperate with healthcare authorities in the Philippines.