Duque confirms vaccinated 12-year-old in Tarlac later got severe dengue

MANILA, Philippines – There is now at least one case of a Filipino child who received the risky Dengvaxia dengue vaccine who later got infected with a severe case of the virus. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed this in a press conference in Malacañang on Friday, December 8. (READ: Vaccinated Filipino youth now at risk of getting severe dengue)

“This is about a 12-year-old female, a student from Tarlac – I am not at liberty to disclose the name of course – who was initially admitted at a private hospital, Jecsons. And then later on, while there, she was diagnosed to have a positive dengue virus using the antigen NS1 and positive for IGM, the antibody present normally against dengue virus,” said Duque. 

Duque said the student’s symptoms included hypotension, low blood pressure of “about 64 over 40,” and a platelet count of 24,000. Duque said the normal count is around 250,000 to 450,000.

“So that was the diagnosis – severe dengue with hypotension and bradycardia, means slowing of the heart rate,” said Duque.

Fortunately, he said, the child recovered from her illness after she was transferred to JB Lingad Hospital, a hospital managed by the DOH. 

Duque said the DOH is waiting for more details regarding another case in Cebu. 

Last week, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur said new analysis of 6 years’ worth of clinic data showed its Dengvaxia vaccine could lead to a person developing “more severe” dengue if he or she has not been infected by the virus prior to immunization.  

This was the same vaccine used by the Department of Heath (DOH) in its school-based immunization program in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students)

Duque already suspended the program after Sanofi’s announcement, but not before 830,000 Flipino gradeschoolers received the risky vaccine. Duque initially said only 733,713 children received doses of Dengvaxia. 

The DOH secretary is now bent on holding Sanofi accountable.

He plans to demand a full refund of the P3.5 billion the Philippine government spent for the vaccine and the creation of an indemnity fund for the expenses of Dengvaxia-administered Filipino children who will later be hospitalized due to severe dengue.

For now, Duque said the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation is prepared to cover up to P16,000 in expenses should any child be admitted to the hospital due to dengue. 

The DOH has also formed a task force that would closely monitor  recipients of the dengue vaccine and probe the events that led to the vaccination program’s implementation and suspension. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.