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Aquino should eventually speak up on dengue vaccine fiasco – Ejercito

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Senator JV Ejercito on Thursday said it was inevitable that former President Benigno Aquino should defend his administrations decision to fast-track the deployment of the controversial dengue vaccine.

“Sa ngayon kasi, we want to focus on the procurement kung nagkaroon ng haste sa procurement. It will be premature to point to the top already,” he said. “But if it will reach the top then we will advise them to answer.”

In the briefing, he said that the meetings of President Aquino with Sanofi Pasteur should be reviewed.

“It will be unethical that they were able to bag the P3.5-billion contract,” he said.

“There were two instances, hindi lang sa France, yung isa sa China. What are the officials of Sanofi doing in China while the president is there?” he asked.

In 2014, former President Aquino met with Sanofi in China who informed him they are developing vaccines against dengue.

In 2015, he met with Sanofi Pasteur CEO Olivier Charmeil for a courtesy call at the Hotel Scribe in France.

In 2016, the administration of the dengue vaccine to public school students was approved, earmarking a P3.5 billion fund for the program.

But in November this year, Sanofi Pasteur revealed the drug might cause a severe case of disease among recipients who have not contracted the dengue virus before.

“Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefits against dengue fever in those who had a prior infection. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however… more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection,” a Sanofi Pasteur statement reads.

At present, Dengvaxia vaccine had already been administered to more than 700,000 public school children.

Senate is set to conduct a public hearing on December 11 on the controversy. Ejercito said it would be the Senate Blue Ribbon committee’s call to invite Aquino.

“We are not a rich country, with our very limited resources, we must work on it. We want our public officials to use our scarce resources prudently.” (PNA)