The Dengvaxia vaccine has caused the death of at least 60 schoolchildren documented by the Public Attorney’s Office, the agency’s chief, Persida Rueda-Acosta, said Wednesday.
Acosta made this assertion as she disputed the claim of former President Benigno Aquino III and former Health secretary Janette Garin that the deaths cannot be attributed to the vaccine because no causal link has been scientifically established.
In their counter-affidavits denying the criminal charges filed against them, Aquino and Garin said the ongoing exhumation and autopsy of cadavers of schoolchildren inoculated with Dengvaxia are not the proper way to determine the causal link since the World Health Organization has set blood sampling and examination as the proper method.
However, Acosta, who filed separate criminal charges against Garin and other officials before the DoJ for parents of reported victims, pointed out that the method prescribed by the WHO was not applicable to the first 57 cases that the PAO documented.
“Those 57 were already embalmed and could no longer be subjected to blood sampling as the cadavers were already contaminated with substances apart from formalin,” she told reporters.
Acosta said that this was the reason PAO decided to tap a forensics team consisting of clinical experts, medico-legal doctors and two senior pathologists and doctors from University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Hospital and Ospital ng Maynila to conduct the autopsies.
The PAO chief also said the deaths from Dengvaxia documented so far by their office were caused by internal organ bleeding, edema and hemorrhages, which are adverse side effects of the vaccine as admitted by manufacturer Sanofi.
“Dengvaxia has side effects as admitted by Sanofi in December 2015 before the vaccine was bought by the DoH [Department of Health]. These are allergic anaphylactic reaction, viscerotropic disease, neurotropism and/or severe dengue, which were evident in the deaths that we have documented,” she said.
She noted that the DoH has even declared 87 deaths possibly caused by the vaccine as of last month.
Acosta also disputed the point of Aquino and Garin that the actions taken by the current administration, including the supposed publicity by her office on victims of the vaccine, have only created unnecessary hysteria and panic that have actually only destroyed the trust of the public in the DoH and its vaccination programs.
She admitted that there was indeed panic among parents, saying that this is an inevitable result of the Dengue vaccination program by the Aquino administration.
“Panic and hysteria are expected because most of the victims are poor and have no money for hospitalization. It is natural to cry when your child gets sick after getting a vaccine or dies later on,” she said.
Lastly, the PAO chief denied the allegation of Aquino that the publicity on Dengvaxia could have something to do with the midterm elections next year by “those who want to generate recall” although the former president did not specifically name her.
“I am not a politician but only a public servant since 1988 to the present. I have not joined in any election in the past and I have no plan to run in the 2019 elections,” she said.
Aquino and Garin, along with budget secretary Florencio Abad and 41 other respondents, appeared before the DoJ and sought the dismissal for lack of merit the charges of multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence under the Revised Penal Code, malversation of public funds, and violations of Republic Act 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and R.A. 9184 otherwise known as “Government Procurement Reform Act” filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc.
The PAO filed charges for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code against Garin and 35 others for the deaths of at least nine children inoculated with the controversial vaccine.
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