MANILA, Philippines – Former President Benigno Aquino III has received the invitation from the Senate blue ribbon committee to attend the next hearing on the controversial dengue vaccine that the government started administering to schoolchildren during his administration.
A staff of Aquino confirmed this to Rappler and said it was sent to Aquino’s residence at Times Street in Quezon City on Tuesday, December 12, at around 4pm.
The second hearing is set for Thursday, December 14, at 10 am.
Prior to receiving the invitation, Aquino said in a text message to reporters that they “are preparing” for the probe if he was invited.
Senate blue ribbon chair Richard Gordon has said that the speed by which the Philippine government approved the commercial release of the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine was “too fast,” hinting that a “conspiracy” might be behind it.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III II earlier said that Aquino should explain why he supported the now-suspended dengue immunization program, which was launched during his term in 2015.
The target was to vaccinate more than one million public school kids aged 9 and above in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.
Less than two years after the vaccination program was launched, manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur issued an advisory, saying its vaccine could lead to “more severe” cases of dengue when administered to a person who had not been infected by the virus prior to immunization.
Sanofi, for its part, warned that the permanent removal of its Dengvaxia dengue vaccine from the Philippine market would be a “disservice to the Filipino people.”
“To permanently remove the vaccine from the Philippine market…would be a regression in the country’s approach to solving a major public health concern and a disservice to the Filipino people” said Thomas Triomphe, Asia Pacific head of Sanofi. – Rappler.com