Ex-DOH chief: Dengvaxia program only got ‘politicized’ in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Friday said the Dengvaxia immunization program was only politicized in the Philippines, noting that there was no evidence showing that the vaccine caused the deaths of schoolchildren.
“It is only the Philippines that has politicized the issue. I believe the criminal case is very weak because there is absolutely no evidence linking the vaccine to the deaths,” Garin said in a statement.
Garin’s statement came after the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted her and several others for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for the deaths of schoolchildren linked to the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.
Garin noted that more than 20 countries in the European Union and the United States are recommending Dengvaxia. She added that the World Health Organization (WHO) repeatedly said the “vaccine does not cause deaths.”
Meanwhile, the former Health chief also took issue with former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial’s exclusion from the indictment, saying Ubial expanded the program and offered it to the community covering schoolchildren and adults.
“It is also highly unusual for the panel to exclude Ubial who have vaccinated twice the number and even expanded the program and shifted it to the community covering not only school children but also adults. Please check on the dates these children were vaccinated. That will clearly send a message,” Garin said.
Despite the DOJ indictment, Garin said: “they are confident in the dismissal of the criminal case.”
During the Aquino administration, the DOH launched an anti-dengue immunization program using Dengvaxia. Around 800,000 individuals, mostly children, were covered the Dengvaxia program.
In 2017, Dengvaxia producer Sanofi Pasteur said the vaccine might pose an increased risk of hospitalization for dengue and severe dengue to individuals who have not been infected by dengue virus.
The Food and Drug Administration then ordered to stop the distribution and sale of Dengvaxia from the Philippine market in December 2017. /ee
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