UP-PGH to review deaths of 14 kids vaccinated with Dengvaxia

MANILA, Philippines – A panel of top doctors from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) is set to review the deaths of 14 children who had received the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said on Friday, January 5, that they submitted the cases to UP-PGH to determine if the causes of the children’s death were in any way linked to the effects of Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine. (READ: DOH to give ballers, health monitoring cards to kids who got Dengvaxia)

“The department has been monitoring all of the children that have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia since March of 2016. So any reports of deaths or disease that have come to these children will be referred to the Philippine General Hospital for review to see if there’s any relationship between the fatality and the vaccine,” Domingo said in a media forum at the Manila Hotel. 

The 14 dead children were among those vaccinated in the DOH’s school-based dengue immunization program, the subject of separate probes at the Senate and House of Representatives and by the Department of Justice. (READ: TIMELINE: Dengue immunization program for public school students

Domingo clarified, however, that only about 4 of them had dengue written as cause of death in their death cerificates. The other cases died of other causes. 

The UP-PGH panel will begin reviewing their medical records on Friday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III suspended the vaccination program last December after Sanofi announced Dengvaxia could cause a person who received it to develop severe dengue symptoms if he or she had not been infected by the virus prior to vaccination.

As of Friday, Duque said the DOH was monitoring around 873,000 vaccinated Filipino grade school students.

Still, the DOH chief said the 14 deaths out of the hundreds of thousands of vaccinated children should not be a cause of alarm yet.

“It’s still is within the case-fatality ratio of less than 1%,” explained Duque.

He had also formed a task force within the DOH that would analyze the latest data available from Sanofi to help the department determine the next steps to take to protect the vaccinated children from harm.

The task force is composed of:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prohibited Sanofi from selling Dengvaxia in the country for a year after the company failed to comply with post-marketing authorization requirements. The FDA had also slapped the French pharmaceutical giant with a P100,000 fee. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.