MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has sought the help of experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to validate the alleged deaths due to the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. (READ: Dengue vaccine more risky for people without prior infection – Sanofi)
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said UP-PGH, as the state university and hospital, is “the most credible third-party institution” to conduct an independent review.
At least two deaths – 10-year-old girls, one from Bataan and another from Quezon City – have been reported so far. Their families claimed the children died after getting vaccinated in school. (READ: Aguirre orders PAO to assist families of Dengvaxia vaccine recipients)
Duque said UP-PGH would provide an independent review of the probable causes of the reported deaths. The expert panel, he said, would be composed of pediatricians, pathologists, and other specialists with “no financial or intellectual ties” to Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia.
“We are being transparent to erase doubts from other sectors that the DOH may be concealing information relevant to Dengvaxia vaccination,” Duque said in a press conference on Thursday, December 21.
Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said it would likely take 2 weeks from the DOH's submission date for the PGH to finish its independent review.
Duque said the DOH also formed an independent expert panel, which would convene next week, to examine new evidence on Dengvaxia and to formulate guidelines on dealing with the adverse events following immunization.
Duque said the DOH would cooperate in any investigations into the issue, adding it has submitted documents to the National Bureau of Investigation upon the instruction of the Department of Justice.
Amid the controversy, the DOH assured help for the public, including PhilHealth coverage for all those vaccinated under government-sponsored progrms.
PhilHealth case rates for Dengue I is P10,000; for Dengue II, P16,000. No Balance Billing applies to those who would be admitted to government hospitals.
The DOH said it would continue to respond to the public’s queries through its 24/7 hotlines apart from its Dengue Public Assistance Desks (DPAD) in the DOH Central Office and regional health offices in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, and the National Capital Region.
Duque also appealed to parents and caregivers of vaccinated children to closely monitor their health.
“At the early signs of dengue, bring them to the nearest health facility so that they can be properly managed and further complications avoided. We also call on public health advocates to work with the DOH in finding solutions to resolve the current issue,” Duque said.
An estimated 830,000 Filipino youth received the vaccine, which was first administered under former president Benigno Aquino III and continued under the Duterte administration. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com