Clear the air on Dengvaxia mess, health advocate urges gov’t agencies
“We should go beyond the chaos and clutter for the greater good to protect the public and parents. This is the time for us to unite,” Dr. Anthony Leachon, a health reform advocate, said Monday.
Various separate investigations have been launched to determine the effect of the anti-dengue Dengvaxia vaccine. Last year, study revealed that children without the history of dengue were at risk once inoculated with Dengvaxia.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe while the Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO), along with its forensic arm, has started conducting forensic examination of bodies believed to have died less than a year after receiving the dengue vaccine.
The PAO’s forensic team has examined seven bodies of children so far.
According to Dr. Erwin Erfe, a forensic expert and head of the Public Attorneys’ Office Forensic Laboratory, a pattern is beginning to form as the children suffered bleeding, enlarged organs and rapid decline of health condition.
Dr. Erfe said the children died within 12, 24 to 48 hours since the onset of the first symptom.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, said a study of their own team of experts showed that based on clinical records, 14 children who died after being immunized with Dengvaxia were found to have died of dengue shock syndrome.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III could not say if it was directly link to Dengvaxia.
Dr. Leachon said all agencies should work together to prevent more deaths.
“We appeal to Sec. Duque to facilitate the investigation. Kailangan ng maagang aksiyon because deaths have been mounting right now…We are not in a position of power. The ball is in the hands of Secretary Duque para tayo magkaroon ng multisectoral power,” Dr. Leachon told reporters during the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel.
Dr. Erfe meanwhile said the DOH team should go beyond the clinical records of the 14 children.
“Sana nga yung 14 i-exhume nila. May makikita pa sila. Yun ngang one year mahigit, na mummify nakita namin may bleeding pa,” Dr. Erfe said adding that if an actual examination was conducted, they might have seen what they have found out from examining the bodies of seven children.
The PAO forensic team has examined seven bodies of children ranging from 10-13 years old. Examination showed that all the seven died barely a year after receiving Dengvaxia. Dr. Erfe said the children also suffered bleeding, most have enlarged organs and died within 12 to 48 hours after the onset of the first symptom which is fever.
Dr. Erfe added that the infectious disease experts should also convene to come up with a management protocol to assist sick Dengvaxia recipients.
“Gusto namin mag-convene ang mga infectious disease specialist para mapag-aralan ang mga cases na ito. Sana tingnan mabuti ito at baka maagapan para maka develop ng management protocol kung paano ima manage ang mga batang ito na maaaring magkaroon pa ng ganitong cases in the future,” Dr. Erfe added.
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