WHO SAGE report bolsters move to stop Dengvaxia vaccination: DOH

By Leilani Junio

April 20, 2018, 9:18 pm

MANILA -- A Department of Health (DOH) official said Friday that the World Health Organization (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts’ (SAGE) latest recommendation on the use of Dengvaxia has bolstered the agency's decision to stop the dengue vaccine immunization program in the country.

"I think the prudent decision of the DOH has been supported by the recommendation of SAGE," DOH Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said during a press conference in Manila.

The WHO-SAGE report came out after experts convened on April 17-18 wherein one of the topics was Dengvaxia.

In its recommendation, the SAGE said, "For countries considering vaccination as part of their dengue control program, a 'pre-vaccination screening strategy' would be the preferred option, in which only dengue seropositive persons are vaccinated."

Domingo said the recommendation to screen the children first and tested for seropositivity and seronegativity before Dengvaxia is administered to them is now difficult to do.

"When we say pre-screening is needed, you have to understand that there is no rapid diagnostic test (RDT) available right. There is no RTD right now that is licensed or validated to be used in pre-screening before vaccination," Domingo said.

He said even the WHO and SAGE recognize that it will take probably another one to two years before a validated test for screening would be available.

Aside from the unavailability of commercial RDTs to do the screening and detect prior infection to dengue, Domingo said, there is no guarantee that once the RDT test becomes available, it would produce a complete reliable result.

"When that test is finally developed in one or two years, there will always be that level of sensitivity, and specificity. And it will never be a 100 percent," he added. (PNA)