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Philippines Dengue Vaccine Fiasco Continues

Philippines Dengue Vaccine Fiasco Continues

Earlier this month I posted an article, “Philippine Dengue Vaccine Program Halted.” More information has since been released, prompting today’s post: “Philippines Dengue Vaccine Fiasco Continues.”

What is Dengue Fever?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Dengue (DENG-gey) fever is a mosquito-borne disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

Mild dengue fever causes a high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. A severe form of dengue fever, also called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock) and death.

My own spouse survived a bout with dengue fever two years ago this month.

Dengue Vaccine Risks

Sanofi Pasteur is the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia. Last month Sanofi stated that Dengvaxia was safe on persons with prior dengue infection.

However, Sanofi also admitted that Dengvaxia could cause severe dengue in those who had not been infected before vaccination if they were bitten by mosquitoes carrying the virus after the period of inoculation.

It might have placed those who have not had been sick with dengue fever at risk of contracting a more dangerous strain.

More than 830,000 students from Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila received the vaccine.

The Inquirer.net reports that students were not the only recipients of the world’s first dengue vaccine. In September, 1,257 Quezon City policemen and their dependents were given Dengvaxia under the Quezon City Police District’s free vaccination program.

The Aquino regime spent P3.5 billion to purchase the vaccines from French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur. The administration has been accused of implementing the vaccine program even if studies on its safety have not been completed.

dengue vaccine fiasco

Warnings Ignored

However, despite warnings from WHO, the World Health Organization and the FEC, the Formulary Executive Council, Former Health Secretary Janette Garin pushed through the vaccine program.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it never recommended to countries the use of Dengvaxia in their national immunization programs.

“The WHO position paper did not include a recommendation to countries to introduce the dengue vaccine into their national immunization programs,” WHO said in a statement.

The vaccination process was completed in only four months. However, such projects usually take up to two years to approve.

Garin Advised Aquino to Purchase the Dengvaxia vaccine

Former health secretary Enrique Ona has blamed his successor Janette Garin for the purchase of the anti-dengue vaccine.

Ona said it was Garin who advised former president B.S. Aquino lll to purchase the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Ona resigned as health secretary in 2014 when the past administration was considering the purchase of the vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur. The government bought the vaccine for P3.5 billion.

Ona said he knew the possible effects of Dengvaxia on people with no history of dengue, but the past administration still purchased the vaccine without carefully reviewing its long-term effect.

The Department of Justice has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to start its probe on who is responsible for the anti-dengue vaccine mess. (Source: philstar.com)

Aquino Pulls Classic Sgt. Schultz Line in Senate Hearing

Former Philippine President B.S. Aquino basically pulled a classic Sgt. Schultz line from Hogan’s Heroes: “I see NOTHING. I know NOTHING!”

sgt schultz I know nothing

aquino testifies before senate dengue probe(Photo Source: philstar.com)

Aquino told a Senate hearing that nobody had opposed the rollout of the vaccine program, which he said was meant to ensure the safety of Filipinos.

Evidently Aquino did not heed the warnings from his own Department of Health (DOH) advisory board of doctors and pharmacologists, according to documents reviewed by Reuters, or from WHO, the World Health Organization.

In January 2016 then health secretary Janette Garin boasted that the Philippines would immunize one million children with a new dengue vaccine. Garin claimed it was a world first and tribute to the Philippines “expertise” in research.

Dengue Vaccine Warnings

After Garin’s proclamation, the Formulary Executive Council (FEC) of advisers urged caution over the vaccine because it said its safety and cost-effectiveness had not been established.

After twice meeting in January, the panel approved the state’s purchase of the vaccine on Feb 1, 2016 but recommended stringent conditions, minutes of all three meetings show.

“Based on the available scientific evidence presented to the Council, there is still a need to establish long-term safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness,” the FEC told Garin in a letter on that day. The letter was reviewed by Reuters.

The FEC said Dengvaxia should be introduced through small-scale pilot tests and phased implementation rather than across three regions in the country at the same time, and only after a detailed “baseline” study of the prevalence and strains of dengue in the targeted area, the FEC letter and minutes of the meetings said.

The experts also recommended that Dengvaxia be bought in small batches so the price could be negotiated down.

An economic evaluation report commissioned by Garin’s own department had found the proposed cost of 1,000 pesos ($20.00) per dose was “not cost-effective” from a public payer perspective, the minutes from the meetings revealed.

For reasons that Reuters was unable to determine, these recommendations were ignored. (Source: Bangkok Post)

The Midnight Deal

However, the Business Mirror sheds some light onto why Aquino and Garin might have ignored the advice of reputable health officials.

The “inordinate haste” with which officials of the Aquino administration moved to approve the mass vaccination and ensure funds were available—even outside the DOH’s organic budget—smacked of a “conspiracy” with possible implications of “corruption,” Senator Richard Gordon said.

Was the dengue vaccine fiasco a “midnight deal” orchestrated before the start of the May 2016 presidential elections in the Philippines? Senator Gordon thinks that could be the case.

Aquino and Garin meet with Sanofi Pasteur Overseas

Philippine Senator JV Ejercito wonders why Aquino found it necessary  to meet with Sanofi Pasteur officials in China and with the drug company’s CEO in France in a posh Paris luxury hotel.

Says Senator Ejercito: “It will be unethical that they were able to bag the PHP3.5-billion contract. What are the officials of Sanofi doing in China while the president is there?”

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin admitted that she met with officials of Sanofi Pasteur in Paris two years ago after first claiming that she could not “recall” such a dinner in Paris.

In true doublespeak worthy of any  American politician Garin stated:

“I made a mistake, I was being asked on a dinner that happened two years ago,” she said. She added: “But let me put it categorically. I supposedly denied it. What I said was, I can’t recall it.”

Really, Ms. Garin? It seems odd that anyone could not recall a dinner in Paris, let alone one that took place only two years ago.

dengue vaccine

(Photo Source: philstar)

Mass Murder Charges Filed against Aquino and Garin

Former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director Augusto Syjuco Jr. has filed a complaint of mass murder and plunder against former President B.S. Aquino III and former Health secretary Janette Garin before the Office of the Ombudsman for the approval of the P3.5-billion procurement of Dengvaxia vaccines.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to exhume and examine the bodies of three children believed to have died because of Dengvaxia, an anti-Dengue vaccine.

Dante Jimenez of VACC said the three from Bataan received the vaccine in April 2016.

Public Attorney Calls Out Liars

The Public Attorney’s Office said more families are willing to come forward to speak up on the ill effects of the vaccine.

PAO Chief Persida Acosta said:

“Some are claiming there were no deaths related to Dengvaxia. They’re lying. Many died.”

To prove their critics wrong, Acosta presented two families whose children allegedly died after receiving Dengvaxia.

First is the case of 10-year-old Christine Mae de Guzman of Mariveles, Bataan.

Her father, Nelson, recalled his daughter was immunized on April 6, 2016. Said Nelson: “‘Before she was immunized, I was told to thank the government for the free vaccine, because it would have cost us P4,500 to P5,000.”

But six months after, Nelson said his daughter complained of a headache.

Nelson states  “She went to school on October 11. Around lunch time, she said she has a headache, and she can’t stay in school. After two weeks, her stomach started to hurt.”

Four days after, Christine Mae died. Her death certificate showed the cause of her death was “severe dengue.”

The other child who died, 10-year-old Anjielica Pestilos, got vaccinated with Dengvaxia in September 13, 2017.

Anjielica’s death certificate stated the cause was “systemic lupus” but a review of the child’s records showed signs of of severe hemorrhagic dengue.

Both children had no previous exposure to dengue.

The Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) wants the Justice Department to speed up the investigation on the vaccine mess.

VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio claimed an insider tipped him that documents related to the controversial vaccine were being shredded.

Acosta said they are planning to file criminal, civil, and administrative complaints against those behind the program. But she is holding off revealing the names to be charged just yet as they expect more families to come forward.

(Source: CNN Philippines)