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The Minister of Health denounced pressure from the laboratories for the production of the dengue vaccine

The Minister of Health Mario Russo denounced pressure from the laboratories for the dengue vaccine

Within hours of it becoming known that the Government decided to suspend for 30 days the intervention of the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) in the importation of mosquito repellents, in the context of a historic dengue outbreak, the Minister of Health, Mario Russo, accused pressure from laboratories for the dengue vaccine.

“I was criticized a lot, but I want to be clear on this. Health does not escape the national reality. I want to be clear with this,” the national official began during an interview with Jonatan Viale on TN.

And he stated: “Doesn’t it strike you that I have been on the national network for four days, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.? Because they squeeze. They squeeze the laboratories, they squeeze the caste. I understand that it is multi-causal, it is not my responsibility to determine why. We have to start speaking the truth. It is better to tell an uncomfortable truth. There are interests. The President is convinced of what we do and the decisions that we are going to make in the health area have to do with the scientific evidence that we have at this moment to make decisions, not with pressures.”

Mario Russo, Minister of Health: “To mitigate the dengue outbreak, the vaccine is not useful”

“What we say, to be clear, is that the vaccine is safe and effective. Now, I am the Minister of Health and I have the responsibility of making a determination about the National Immunization Calendar in Argentina. The only thing we said is what PAHO said and what the National Immunization Commission (CONAIN) advises us, what our experts tell us and everyone says it: the vaccine is not a validated tool to mitigate the outbreak. The decision is personal to each inhabitant with their family doctor, because I remind them that this vaccine requires a medical prescription to be applied,” highlighted the national official.

At the same time he assured: “Sometimes, one feels that some pseudoscientists who swarm around the media and are presented as great professors, who many times, many of them, have a very good resume and are very qualified people, “They have some conflict of interest.”

“So that you understand well, in the United States, when a health professional makes a recommendation about a molecule, a drug, a remedy, or a vaccine, clarify if there is any conflict of interest. When you see an American trial at the end of that work and that protocol, it says this protocol was paid for by this laboratory,” said Russo. And he called for “returning to scientific evidence.” “We are all calm there. “People will be calm,” he added.

Meanwhile, when asked about the possible incorporation of the vaccine, Russo stated: “The decision, so far, is not to include the vaccine in the National Immunization Program. We are working jointly with the Pan American Health Organization and the National Immunization Commission, doing what is called pharmacovigilance. That is, this is a vaccine that has passed phase three, in a population of 20,000 patients, which has been safe and effective. But it is still in this field testing phase called phase four, which is pharmacovigilance.”

“It is easier for a Minister of Health of the Province to turn around and ask the Ministry of Health of the Nation, as they did for an ultrasound machine or a tomograph. But no, buy it yourself, discuss with your governor who voted for it the people what they are the priorities,” said the minister

Regarding its application in various places, Russo warned that “Brazil is having a very interesting experience, but it is vaccinating children between 10 and 14 years old. Salta and Misiones are doing an interesting experience and vaccinating different populations: Salta from 20 to 39 missions until a little older, almost up to 60 years of age. We were not opposed to that. What we are observing is experience, because the responsibility of indicating a vaccine is capital.” “So, there I return to the first thing, caste has certain times, industry has certain times, and politics has certain times, which science does not have,” he added.

Meanwhile, when questioned, Russo assured: “The President has given us the responsibility and support to define who is going to be vaccinated, where they are going to be vaccinated with scientific evidence. The rest, the president told me, are not of interest to us.” And he continued: “The State is a big buyer of laboratories. “We came to change this status quo, so we have to understand that the definitions we are going to take have to do with the risk-benefit of the people.”

The truth is that at the beginning of the interview, in the context of the dengue outbreak, the minister asked to provide a “context” and stated: “The national State is very clearly established in the Constitution, what are the provincial States in charge of?” and the municipal states, so that we can exercise stewardship, the strategic planning of public health policies, setting the course, downloading practical guides for both diagnosis, as in this case of dengue, and treatment. And the sooner the provinces, governors and provincial Health Ministers understand that it is their responsibility to carry out the operational phase of these public health policies, the better results we will have.”

On the other hand, when asked about the criticism, Russo pointed out against the previous management “they held a conference with 26 infectious disease specialists and a clown. They took photos and filmed themselves in a vulnerable neighborhood, trashing things and they believe that this adds up. We arrived at the ministry and communicated on the second day with the epidemiological bulletin, which is consolidated and published by us in the Ministry of Health, week by week we communicate with the 24 ministers of the provinces and communicate the data, we communicate what the serotype is. that is circulating. So, that present state that they talk about and that is absent today.”

“I was criticized a lot, but I want to be clear on this. Health does not escape the national reality. “I want to be clear about this,” said the minister (Getty Images)

According to what this management indicated, it was responsible for creating the National Agency of Public Laboratories, “which was supposed to coordinate the public laboratories of the different provinces to supply certain medications and in this case the repellent as well. It strikes me that in 2023, which was the year in which some regions became endemic, the virus circulated throughout the year. We arrived and found a laboratory with directors with salaries of 5 million pesos, but we did not find repellents. “The priority was another.” “The Minister of Health of the Nation has another role, he cannot deal with Primary Care. That is what the municipal and provincial governments are for,” he highlighted.

Finally, after referring to the recently endorsed measure on repellents, which among other things will allow “door-to-door purchasing with a resolution that we made from ANMAT with the Ministry of Economy,” Russo warned that “Minister Luis Caputo released the fences that not only producers had to import with their basic inputs, but also the finished product with some very specific measures. We also have to say these uncomfortable truths: we do not believe that the Ministry of Health of the Nation is a supermarket to send to the governors, mayors and ministers of health of each of the regions (different products), because that is how the Ministry works. ”

And he concluded: “We had a meeting with the 24 Ministers of Health of the Provinces (within the framework of COFESA) that was very positive. We were able to exchange opinions and I told them: you are the protagonists. We are going to lead the way, we are going to lead the way, but you are the protagonists, help me to improve health, because it is easier for a Minister of Health of the Province to turn around and ask the Ministry of Health of the Nation, like an ultrasound or a tomograph did. But no, buy it yourselves, discuss with your governor, who voted for him, what the priorities are.”

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