‘No proof Dengvaxia linked to deaths of 14 kids’

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
âNo proof Dengvaxia linked to deaths of 14 kidsâ

“Paramount here is the welfare of our children. This is not a battle of who is the best specialty group,” Philippine Society of Pathologists (PSP) led by president Bernadette Espiritu noted. Edd Gumban, File

MANILA, Philippines — As the Dengvaxia controversy rages, another group of doctors has come forward to counter the scare and reassure the public that there is no medical evidence showing that the anti-dengue vaccine caused the death of 14 Filipino children.

In a statement, the Philippine Society of Pathologists (PSP) led by president Bernadette Espiritu said the Dengvaxia scare had jeopardized the national immunization program and threatened to trigger epidemics in the country.

The group has called for prudence in the dissemination of information about Dengvaxia.

“Paramount here is the welfare of our children. This is not a battle of who is the best specialty group,” Espiritu noted. 

The statement was issued after a 10-member expert panel from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) found that none of the 14 children whose deaths they examined could be directly attributable to Dengvaxia.

PSP added such fact is in stark contrast with the supposed findings of the Public Attorney’s Office forensics team that linked Dengvaxia to the deaths.

The group has committed to support the Philippine Medical Association and the Department of Health (DOH) in their efforts to reach out to the vaccinated children and their families, and to help alleviate their plight as a result of the Dengvaxia scare.

“The PSP is always ready, able and willing to serve the Dengvaxia vaccine-recipient children and their families,” it said.

PSP added that the children who received Dengvaxia vaccination, their families and friends, are now engulfed by the undue scare that death is almost an inevitable consequence of such vaccination.

The group said the scare has been generated by the much-publicized autopsy findings from the supposed forensic consultant of PAO, unduly and hastily linking Dengvaxia to the death of some 14 children.

“To these helpless Filipino countrymen, their lives have practically come to a halt until they find certain solution or assurance that their Dengvaxia vaccinated children will not suffer the same fate as those who were autopsied by those who claim to be forensics expert,” PSP added.

A member of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the PSP is a recognized professional medical association that is duly mandated to train and certify physicians in the field of pathology as a medical specialty.  

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has reiterated his promise to look after the needs of all vaccinated children and to address the gaps observed in the implementation of the first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

In a statement, Duque said he will ensure full transparency and cooperation in the ongoing investigation on the Dengvaxia controversy. 

He added that amid the ongoing investigations, the DOH is more focused on attending to the concerns of the more than 830,000 vaccine recipients and their families. 

“Should there be any DOH official who will be proven to have transgressed any law or deviate from standard operating procedures in relation to the purchase and implementation of the dengue vaccine, I will make sure that they will face justice,” he noted.

Duque added that the DOH will not withhold documents related to the dengue vaccination program to the Department of Justice and even the Senate and House that are also separately conducting probes. 

The health chief has denied accusations that he is obstructing justice.

“I am not protecting anyone, most especially those allegedly involved in the controversial implementation of the dengue immunization. I am also after the truth and I am for the correction of the deficiencies observed in the rollout of the program,” he said.

The vaccination program of the DOH started with the administration of former secretary Janette Garin and it was Duque who ordered the termination of the program after Sanofi-Pasteur, manufacturer of Dengvaxia, reported certain adverse effects following immunization.

“After Sanofi-Pasteur made public certain adverse effects caused by the vaccine following immunization, I ordered the immediate termination of the program,” Duque said.




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