Senator Leila De Lima has denounced the “three stooges” who blamed former President Benigno Aquino III for the P3.5-billion anti-dengue vaccine controversy.
De Lima was referring to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption’ (VACC) members Dante Jimenez and Ferdinand Topacio.
“Citing nothing but anecdotal data and malicious speculation on the effects of the vaccine, the alarmist tact of these three stooges managed nothing but sow panic among the public,” De Lima said in a statement, referring to a VACC press conference.
“What is funny about this presscon is that not one public health expert or DOH official was present to corroborate the scientific reliability of the anecdotal data of these clowns,” said De Lima in the statement dated December 4.
At the press conference, the VACC cited alleged deaths caused by Dengvaxia.
Topacio, De Lima said, also connected the issue to a supposed corruption angle involving Aquino following his alleged meeting with Sanofi, the supplier of the vaccine.
“What the three stooges intimated to the public is that if your child is sick today, it is because of the vaccine, and that is the fault of none other than former President Aquino who benefited therefrom by making your child sick,” she said.
The lawmaker also tagged as “irresponsible, alarmist, speculative and malicious” the statements of the justice secretary and the VACC members.
Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia, has admitted that the vaccine “could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected” by dengue. However, the French drug maker denied that deaths claimed by the VACC were caused by Dengvaxia.
De Lima called on the Department of Health to take the lead in informing the public of the real nature of the health risks to children that the distribution of the vaccine has supposedly caused.
“It must not allow the issue to be used for political propaganda by Duterte hatchetmen at the expense of properly informing the public with clear scientific data,” she said.
Last Friday, the DOH suspended the administration of Dengvaxia and ordered the close observation of those who had received the antidengue vaccine, which is the first to be manufactured in the world.
The anti-dengue vaccination drive was launched under former Health Secretary Janette Garin during Aquino’s presidency.
Topacio raised issues in the purchase of Dengvaxia which was reportedly not included in the vaccines identified for use by the DOH. It was also not funded under the 2015 and 2016 government budgets but got funding from still unclear sources. /cbb