Creating a Public Health Crisis
By 2015, vaccination programs in the Philippines had demonstrated so must success that 93 per cent of the public trusted them. The anti-vaccination movement that had been energised by a fraudulent 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield alleging links between MMR vaccines had found the Philippines barren ground. Until 2018.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Washington, the Asian Institute of Management, and Imperial College London, found that confidence in vaccines across the board had plummetted to 32 per cent. That drop threatens successful public health programs across the country, leaving local health workers with an uphill climb to persuade their communities that measles vaccines and even de-worming medicines were safe.
The potential result is a public health crisis. Indeed, vaccine-preventable diseases like measles have increased, decades of advance have been set back by decades and will cost the lives of children.
What happened between 2015 and 2018 was the result of deliberate misinformation based on political agendas and a panic intended to support those agenda. To cite the paper referred to: “Critical thinking has become increasingly challenged by belief in conspiracy and false narratives.”
Instead of Andrew Wakefield, it is the Philippines Public Attorney’s Office, its head, Persidia Acosta and its consultant Erwin Erfe II. Instead of misinformation about MMR vaccine, it is misinformation about a vaccine against Dengue introduced in 2016 and which by 2017 was reducing the incidence of Dengue as well as dengue-related deaths.
That vaccine, the first in the world to successfully be applied to Dengue – others are under development – is Dengvaxia;
Let’s look at how it came about.