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Philippines declares national dengue epidemic, 622 dead

Christian Fernsby |
The Philippines declared a national dengue epidemic on Tuesday after hundreds of people died of the disease this year.

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There were 146,062 cases of dengue from Jan 1 to Jul 20 this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said, a 98 per cent increase from the same period the previous year. A total of 622 people have died from dengue, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference.

The country also stood firm on its ban on the world's first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which was banned following the deaths of dozens of children who were among more than 700,000 people given shots in 2016 and 2017 in a government immunisation campaign.

Duque said the government is studying an appeal to allow French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi to put the vaccine back in the Philippine market, but ruled out using the drug to combat the ongoing epidemic.

"This vaccine does not squarely address the most vulnerable group which is the five to nine years of age," Duque said.

The vaccine, now licensed in 20 countries according to the World Health Organization, is approved for use for those aged nine and older.

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