Former Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is included in the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)’s probe into the procurement and administration of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Everybody who was involved will be included in the NBI investigation,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told reporters when asked if the former president will also be included in the probe.
Aguirre has ordered the NBI to conduct an investigation and case build-up over the “danger to public health” of the dengue vaccination program launched by the Department of Health (DOH) in April 2016 during the Aquino administration under then-Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Under the DOH’s mass immunization program, more than 700,000 children in the country’s three highly endemic regions—Regions III Central Luzon, IV-A Calabarzon, and Metro Manila—were administered Dengvaxia last year.
“We have to know why [the DOH] ordered such a huge amount of vaccine and immediately vaccinated 733,000 schoolchildren. Is that appropriate?” Aguirre told reporters.
The justice secretary also encouraged families of the children who were administered Dengvaxia to come forward and give their information to the NBI if their children would show adverse effects due to the vaccine.
Last week, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine’s manufacturer, released an analysis which found out that for those not previously infected by the virus, more cases of severe disease could occur in the long term following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection.
The DOH immediately suspended its dengue vaccination program following the disclosure of health risks.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines also ordered Sanofi Pasteur to pull out its Dengvaxia vaccine from the market, “pending compliance with the directives of the FDA.”
FDA, likewise, directed Sanof to immediately “suspend the sale, distribution, marketing of Dengvaxia,” and to “conduct an information dissemination campaign through Advisories, Dear Doctor Letters and patient fora.”
In a statement on Tuesday, December 5, Sanofi assured that they will work with the FDA to review the implementation of its order, and will hold dialogues with the regulatory body on the matter.
“We were informed of the position of the Philippine Food and Drug Administration which was published on December 4, 2017 and will work with them to review the implementation of their direction,” Sanofi said.
“We will continue to seek constructive and transparent dialogue with them,” it added.
Sanofi also clarified anew that Dengvaxia does not cause dengue fever.
“We remind you that the dengue vaccine does not contain any viruses that can make people ill with dengue or severe dengue. If you have had no previous dengue infection before vaccination, the vaccine does not give you dengue,” the company said.