US expert claims he warned Sanofi about health risks of Dengvaxia

An American expert on tropical diseases told the Philippine Senate on Tuesday that he warned French pharmaceutical giant Senofi Pasteur about the risks of using anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2016, The Manila Times Online reported on Wednesday.

In testifying before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Scot Halstead claimed he also sent a video of Antonio Dans, a health expert, hoping that it could be presented during the committee’s hearing that same year.

Halstead said he published two articles in 2016 suggesting that blood tests should be conducted on recipients before they were to be vaccinated because of the health risks Dengvaxia could bring to seronegative individuals.

He said Dengvaxia should not be administered to seronegative individuals or people who had never been infected with dengue virus.

“My contention was that the vaccine is safe for seropositive but dangerous for seronegative and you can discriminate the two through test,” said Halstead.

He said that Sanofi was aware of his study because the company responded and even published an answer. “They said that they did not think there is enough data. And the contention of Sanofi is that there are more people benefited than hurt,” he added.

The Blue Ribbon Committee ended its hearing into the P3.5 billion Dengvaxia deal on Tuesday and would be recommending charges to be filed against persons involved in the controversy, including former president Benigno Aquino 3rd.

But Senator Richard Gordon said, besides Aquino, former budget secretary Florencio Abad and health officials of Aquino administration headed by Janette Garin would be included in the committee’s report.