Garin worried Dengvaxia case will impact DOH vaccination program
Garin and at least a dozen others were charged for having an "inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight" when they facilitated, with undue haste, "the registration and purchase of Dengvaxia."

Garin worried Dengvaxia case will impact DOH vaccination program
( - March 1, 2019 - 4:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Friday said she respects the decision of a Department of Justice panel to indict her and others over the Dengvaxia vaccine but also raised concerns on how this will affect the government's immunization program.

The DOJ on Friday released part of its investigation panel's resolution to charge her and at least a dozen others for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide over deaths allegedly caused by the controversial anti-dengue vaccine. 

The DOJ panel said that the FDA approved the vaccine’s registration and purchase and rollout even while the clinical trials were ongoing. Prosecutors also held that Garin and the other respondents were “careless in implementing the mass immunization program.”

READ: DOJ indicts Garin, several others over Dengvaxia

"We respect the decision of the Investigation Panel. I am more concerned with the impact of the decision on the already suffering [Department of Health] Immunization program. People might think again that there is something wrong with the vaccine which is not true," Garin said in a statement to media.

"Let us put primary importance to saving lives rather than politicking. The whole world is presently benefitting from the protection of the vaccine and even expanding its use. It is only the Philippines that has politicized the issue," she also said.

Garin: WHO said Dengvaxia does not cause deaths

According to a press release by the DOJ, Garin and the others were charged for having an "inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight" when they facilitated, with undue haste, "the registration and purchase of Dengvaxia."

The DOJ's statement centered on the panel’s finding of irregularities in the purchase and in Food and Drug Administration registration pending completion of clinical trials of Dengvaxia. The DOJ’s statement did not touch on Garin's defense that there is no evidence that directly links the deaths to Dengvaxia.

The DOJ also stressed the resolution is not meant to spread fear of vaccines.

"I believe the criminal case is very weak because there is absolutely no evidence linking the vaccine to the deaths. We are confident in the dismissal of this case. Twenty countries plus the European Union and the US are recommending its use. The World Health Organization repeatedly said the vaccine does not cause deaths," Garin said.

"We congratulate the anti-vaccine groups," she said, adding she hopes the country's doctors "overcome this challenging time where life-saving vaccines are demonized and being used as a tool for politicking."

RELATED: How the Dengvaxia scare helped erode decades of public trust in vaccines

Garin also said she found it "highly unusual" that Dr. Paulyn Ubial, her successor at the helm of the Department of Health, was not among those indicted.

She said that Ubial "vaccinated twice the number and even expanded the program and shifted it to the community covering not only school children but also adults."

She said authorities should check when the children who allegedly died because of Dengvaxia were vaccinated.

The Department of Health has maintained that there is no evidence that the children died because they were vaccinated with Dengvaxia, which pharmaceutical giant Sanofi disclosed in November 2017 put those who had not previously contracted dengue at risk of having "severe dengue."

The disclosure led to the discontinuation of the government's Dengvaxia program and a year-long ban on the vaccine. It also led to a distrust of vaccination that is said to have contributed to a measles outbreak in the Philippines.

RELATED: In less than two months, measles kills 203 in the Philippines

The Food and Drugs Administration announced last week that it was permanently revoking the certificate of product registration for Dengvaxia for Sanofi's failure to submit and comply with post-marketing authorization requirements. — Jonathan de Santos

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