11 out of 87 kids died of dengue despite Dengvaxia shot – DOH

Mara Cepeda
11 out of 87 kids died of dengue despite Dengvaxia shot – DOH
Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo says several epidemiological tests will have to be conducted over the next few years to confirm if Dengvaxia itself influenced the deaths

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said the latest data showed that 11 out of 87 children who died after receiving at least one dose of Dengvaxia had dengue despite their vaccination.

DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo gave the figures, which were as of May 15, to reporters on the sidelines of the House appropriations committee’s hearing on the now-approved P1.16-billion Dengvaxia medical support fund on Tuesday, May 22.  

As of May 15, ‘yon ‘yong number of confirmed cases from our Epidemiology Bureau – 87 children who have been confirmed to have had Dengvaxia vaccination and died of dengue or any other illness. Sa ngayon, ‘yong mga laboratory-tested and confirmed, meaning talagang nag-grow sa culture or na-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) ‘yong blood sample nila na may dengue is 11,” said Domingo.

(As of May 15, the number of confirmed cases from our Epidemiology Bureau is that 87 children  who have had Dengvaxia vaccination died of dengue or any other illness. As of now, the number of laboratory-tested and confirmed cases, meaning, there was really growth in the culture, or when they checked for the polymerase chain reaction on the blood sample, 11 had dengue.)

Domingo, however, clarified the DOH does not have any evidence yet whether or not the Dengvaxia vaccine itself influenced or even caused the deaths. 

“I think that would think some more time. We have to do a lot of epidemiologic studies in the next few years,” he said.

This is an increase in the number of official Dengvaxia-related deaths reported by the DOH, so far. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students)

In February, experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) reported 3 out of 14 cases they studied showed the children also died of dengue despite getting at least one shot of Sanofi Pasteur’s Dengvaxia dengue vaccine. The DOH had tasked the UP-PGH panel to investigate the 14 cases of death.

Domingo also earlier noted that total of 3,281 students administered with Dengvaxia were hospitalized in different public and private hospitals due to various illnesses between March 2016 to March 2018.

Dengvaxia was the vaccine used when then-DOH chief Janette Garin launched the dengue vaccination program for public schools students in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon in April 2016.

Less than two years later, Sanofi warned its vaccine may to more severe case of dengue when administered on a person who has not been infected by the virus prior to immunization. 

Sealth Secretary Francisco Duque III immediately suspended the program, but not before more than 830,000 children received the risky vaccine. 

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have since launched separate congressional investigations into the matter. 

Garin, Duque, former president Benigno Aquino III, former budget chief Florencio Abad, and various officials from the DOH, Sanofi, and its distributor, Zuelling Pharma, are now facing several complaints filed before the Supreme Court, Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, and the Commission on Elections. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.