The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) recently announced its compensation package for those who will develop serious adverse effects (SAEs) following inoculation for COVID-19 that will lead to hospitalization, permanent disability or death. The said package and its guidelines are contained in its PhilHealth Circular No. 2021-0007 published on June 18, 2021.
The people in the Philippines are suffering from one of the toughest and longest lockdowns in the world. As the government struggles to deal with the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the ultra-strict quarantine and social distancing measures which have now stretched to more than half a year, have left the economy on its knees. The move has also left millions of people jobless and hungry. The dire situation has now pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation. Why did the pandemic hit the poorest of poor so hard? With the Philippine economy slipping into its worst recession in decades, can the poor pull themselves out from the crushing poverty? Will their cries for help be heard?
In 2016, WHO1 recommended that the dengue vaccine CYD-TDV (Dengvaxia; Pasteur, Lyon, France), the first dengue vaccine, licensed for use in adults and children aged 9 years or older, be considered for use in highly endemic regions where at least 70% of 9-year-old children had previously been infected with dengue. The Philippines was the first country to introduce Dengvaxia on a large scale in selected highly endemic regions, targeting about 1 million children aged 9–10 years. In November, 2017, an excess risk of hospitalisation for dengue and severe dengue in vaccinees who had not had a previous dengue infection at the time of vaccination was reported,2 on the basis of retrospective analyses3 of data from the Dengvaxia phase 3 trials, using a novel non-structural protein 1 (NS1) based antibody assay. Following a reanalysis of these data,3 the Philippine Dengvaxia programme was suspended. However, by the time the programme had been suspended, more than 830 000 children had received at least one of the three recommended Dengvaxia doses. The news about the safety concerns in dengue-naive vaccinees led to major public outcry, with loss in vaccine confidence that extended to routine childhood vaccines.4
A prominent pediatrician and medical researcher in the Philippines has been indicted over the failed—and many say premature—introduction of Dengvaxia, a vaccine against dengue that was yanked from the Philippine market in 2017 because of safety issues. If convicted of accusations leveled at her by the national Department of Justice (DOJ), Rose Capeding, 63, former head of the dengue department of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) here, could face up to 48 years in prison.
…Halstead’s concerns proved valid. In November 2017, Sanofi Pasteur announced that the vaccine could indeed exacerbate cases of dengue in children never previously infected, and the Philippines halted the campaign immediately. (WHO now recommends the vaccine be used only after a test to be sure children have had at least one brush with dengue.)