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Duque: Aquino should attend Senate probe on Dengvaxia

In this Dec. 1, 2015 photo, officials of Sanofi Pasteur—led by Chief Executive Officer Olivier Charmeil—paid a courtesy call on Aquino III in Hotel Scribe in Paris. He was accompanied at the courtesy call by Health Secretary Janette Garin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya. Malacañang Photo Bureau, file

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Benigno Aquino III should clear the speculations against him over the dengue vaccine mess, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.

On Dec. 1, 2015, Aquino met with executives of pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur in a courtesy call in Paris. A few weeks after this meeting, the Philippines became the first Asian country to approve the commercial sale of Dengvaxia.

"I think the former president should himself come forward... and say, 'This is what happened and this is what I agreed to based on some recommendation that I followed because somebody had advised me," Duque told ANC's "Headstart".

Sen. JV Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, is eyeing holding an inquiry into the vaccination program of the Department of Health by January 2018.

Attending the Senate inquiry would be for Aquino's "own good," Duque said.

The Department of Justice earlier said that the investigation into the dengue vaccine mess would include the possible liability of Aquino and former Health Secretary Janette Garin in the program.

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Sanofi disclosed in late November that it has found that patients not previously infected with dengue risk getting "severe" dengue if infected after vaccination. 

The DOH and the Palace have said the public should not panic, with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque saying that the symptoms associated with Grade I and II dengue fever — the "severe" dengue Sanofi warned of — are not fatal.

Aquino approved the vaccination program, that started in April 2016, where the DOH gave free vaccines to children, nine years old and above, from public schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and the CALABARZON region.

Aquino and Garin reportedly approved the program without certification from the World Health Organization.

In a statement released earlier this week, WHO said that their position paper did not include a recommendation to countries to introduce the dengue vaccine into their immunization programs.

"Rather, WHO outlined a series of considerations national governments should take into account in deciding whether to introduce the vaccine, based on a review of available data at the time, along with possible risks," the WHO said.

READ: FDA stops sale of Dengvaxia, orders withdrawal from market

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