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Malacañang backs UP-PGH findings on Dengvaxia

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday, February 3, backed the findings of an expert panel that said only 3 deaths of children were found to have a "causal association" with dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

In a media briefing on Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque noted the findings of the panel from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) on the Dengvaxia case.

"Itong unang report po nila mukha namang makakahinga na tayo nang mas mabuti, mga nanay at tatay, dahil mukhang hindi po related sa Dengavaxia iyong katorse na naulat na namatay di-umano dahil diyan sa bakunang iyan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Saturday, February 3.

(Their first report provides a bit of relief for parents because it doesn't look like the 14 deaths were caused by the Dengvaxia vaccine.)

The UP-PGH panel found that, of the 14 deaths being linked to Dengvaxia, 3 were found to have a causal relation, meaning they died of dengue despite being vaccinated. Two of the 3 deaths may have been because of vaccine failure, said Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Enrique Domingo.

"Ibig sabihin, hindi gumana iyong Dengvaxia. Pero 'yan po ay mabuting balita doon sa 830,000 na mga nanay/tatay na naa-abala at natatakot na baka may banta sa buhay ng kanilang mga anak," Roque said.

(It means the vaccine did not work. But that is good news to the parents of the 830,000 children who are worried that the lives of their children are at risk.)

UP-PGH vs PAO

The UP-PGH's findings are in contrast with the alarming pronouncements of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) that they saw a bleeding pattern in the autopsies they conducted on the 14 children.

PAO was tasked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the deaths. Senator Vicente Sotto III had admonished the move to task PAO to conduct the case buildup, as they are not a medical group.

"Kasi kung hindi maganda ang background ng investigation… or even ng nag-iimbestiga at 'di mga scientific expert talaga, pagdating sa mga korte, patay tayo, 'di ba? Doon tayo matotodas talaga,” Sotto said.

(Because if the background of the investigation or the people behind the investigation aren't scientific experts, then we will be at a disadvantage when the case goes to court, right? We'd really lose the battle there.)

UP-PGH forensic pathologist Dr Maria Cecilia Lim explained internal bleeding is not a unique condition for dengue cases.

PAO chief Persida Acosta refused to involve UP-PGH experts in their investigation, saying that they cannot let a DOH-sanctioned group to participate when the DOH itself is being made accountable for the controversy. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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