‘Ubial equally liable for Dengvaxia mess’
THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the Dengvaxia investigation is expected to release soon its report on the controversy after it ended last week its hearings on the vaccine program.
The committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, officially is set to recommend charges against persons involved, including former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III and former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, official committee sources said.
Past hearings indicated Ubial was “equally liable” if not more culpable in the controversy because she continued the vaccination program during her stint, P2billion was released during her term to procure the vaccine, the sources said.
The investigations showed the DoH under Ubial used and injected more than one million Dengvaxia vaccine doses in the expanded program.
In comparison, former Health Secretary Janet Garin, used around 493,000 doses of the dengue vaccine while she was in office.
This irked Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian during one of the hearings where the lawmaker blasted Ubial for spreading the vaccine program into other regions.
“She (Ubial) expanded the program to the regions, if I’m not mistaken Region VII, and in my opinion she is liable for that because these are the lives of the children,” said Gatchalian.
Ubial tried to defend herself but Gatchalian dismissed her defenses as “junk and unacceptable.”
The recent probe likewise suggested that Ubial was liable for changing the mode of implementing the Dengue immunization program which she apparently converted from school-based to community-based.
As a result, around 5,000 members of the PNP were injected, who were outside the targeted 9-11 year-olds under the school-based program.
Further, monitoring, as well as important protocols for patient information, including securing consent and waiver forms were compromised due to the alterations made by Ubial on her shift to community based implementation.
Meanwhile, United States scientist vaccine expert Dr. Scott Halstead rejected the Dengvaxia findings of the Public Attorney’s Office led by Atty. Persida Acosta.
Halstead explained that an autopsy could not be the basis for linking the drug to the death of a child who received the vaccine.
“Please be aware that the diagnosis of Dengvaxia cannot be based on an autopsy. In any child that dies post-Dengvaxia, there has to be two things: 1. Unequivocal evidence that the infection was caused by Dengue virus and that can be done by virus isolation or DNA identification or NS1. 2. We need to know whether the vaccinee was seronegative or positive and to do that, we need to use the test that Sanofi has developed.”
It was learned that Halstead advocated sero testing before vaccination as safety signals were noted but only in the 2-5 years old group when the drug was being tested.
Halstead said that some members of the group were hospitalized although none died.
Nevertheless, under the WHO guidelines there was no recommendation for sero testing for the 9-45 year-olds because of the 85 percent dengue prevalence in the Philippines.