Sanofi Pasteur vows to shoulder expenses of dengue vaccine victims

Camille Elemia
Sanofi Pasteur vows to shoulder expenses of dengue vaccine victims
Thomas Triomphe, Asia Pacific head of the pharmaceutical giant, says there should be scientific evidence that Dengvaxia indeed caused the death or any other case

MANILA, Philippines – French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur vowed to shoulder the expenses of victims, should it be scientifically proven that the problems are caused by the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Thomas Triomphe, Sanofi’s Asia Pacific head, said this on Monday, January 22, during the 4th Senate hearing on the controversies hounding the vaccine.

“As mentioned before, should there be any case related to vaccination – death or any other case – we will shoulder the cost if there is causality that is demonstrated by scientific evidence,” Triomphe said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros welcomed Sanofi’s assurance, which came nearly two months after the manufacturer made the announcement that the vaccine could cause severe dengue for people who were not previously infected by the virus.

“Finally, may confirmation na kung may mapatunayan ang DOH na may mga batang di dapat mabakunahan dahil di pa nagkaroon ng dengue noon, at dahil sa maling pagbabakuna nagkaroon ng mas mahigpit na kaso ng dengue, ay sasagutin ng Sanofi,” Hontiveros said.

(Finally, there is now a confirmation from Sanofi that it would shoulder medical expenses should the DOH confirm that there are children vaccinated without prior infection and now has more severe dengue.)

Earlier, Sanofi agreed to refund the P1.4 billion that the Philippine government is demanding for the unused Dengvaxia dengue vaccine vials in the country. Malacañang, however, insists on getting a refund for the entire contract price of P3.5 billion

The Department of Health has since suspended the immunization program but not before more than 830,000 school children received the risky vaccine.

Affected children

Parents of two children testified before the Senate that their kids’ health went downhill after receiving the vaccination.

Ian Colite, from Imus, Cavite, said his 11-year-old son Zandro died on December 27 less than 24 hours after feeling the symptoms of severe dengue. He said his son felt weak and had rashes and body pains.

Colite said his son received 3 doses in June 2016, January 2017, and June 2017.

Gemma Evangelista, from Pasig City, burst into tears as she told the panel her 11-year-old daughter feels the same symptoms that Zandro felt before his death.

Evangelista said her daughter first had an “attack” in December 2017 when she fainted, and that this happened twice in January – the latest was on Wednesday, January 17.

MOTHER. Gemma Evangelista fears her 11-year-old daughter would soon die, citing symptoms of dengue. Photo by Angie Silva/Rappler

Tulog lang s’ya pagdating. Tinitignan ko. Sabi ko sa isa kong anak, ‘Kuya, bakit ang tagal gumising ni ate?’ Di gumagalaw, ‘yung pulso patlang-patlang, pinump ko ang dibdib, tapos dun s’ya [nagsalita ng], ‘Mama,’” Evangelista said.

(She was just asleep when I arrived home. I was looking at her. I told my other child: “Why is she asleep until now?” She was not moving, with minimal pulse rate. I pumped her chest and that’s when she woke up and said, “Mama.”)

“Anak, mamamatay ka na ba? [Sabi n’ya], ‘Kasi, Mama, masakit na masakit na ulo ko…tapos itinulog ko na lang.’ Kaya natatakot ako na ang naramdaman ng anak n’ya, ‘yun ang nararamdaman ng anak ko,” Evangelista added.

(Are you going to die? She said, “Mama, I have headache. I decided to sleep.” I am now afraid because what his son experienced is now being felt by my daughter.)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he would send a team to check on Evangelista’s daughter. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com