Embattled Immunizations

The Philippines has halted a dengue immunization campaign after a drug manufacturer announced its flagship vaccine could make the disease worse in people not previously infected. The alarm was raised after an 11-year-old boy with congenital heart disease died after receiving Dengvaxia last April.

Dengvaxia, from French drug giant Sanofi, was administered to over 740,000 school children in a $70 million public campaign to fight dengue, which kills 20,000 people a year and infects 400 million.

Health advocates raised concerns about the new drug’s unknown effects when it was rolled out last year; Filipino authorities have defended their use of WHO-approved drug. “I hope that this development will not in any way affect the expanded program of immunization because there are countless number of lives that have been saved,” said Philippine health secretary Francisco Duque.

The New York Times

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