The Public Attorney’s Office said 153 children have now died after being given the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, with the death of a 13-year-old boy who had received a single dose of the controversial drug.
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said the parents of the 13-year-old boy had approached PAO, requesting an autopsy of the boy’s remains.
“This boy is the 153rd victim of Dengvaxia,” Acosta told the Manila Standard.
She said those behind the procurement of the P3 billion worth of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia and its widespread use could face more lawsuits.
On Feb. 21, the Department of Justice indicted former health chief Janette Garin, now Iloilo representative, and other former and active health officials for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide for the deaths of eight children who died after receiving Dengvaxia shots.
The Palace on Sunday distanced itself from the indictment of Garin.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Malacañang has neither interfered nor policitized the case involving health officials.
“That’s for the court to decide. As long as it is in court, we do not interfere. Let the court do its work,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
The Department of Justice prosecutors found probable cause to indict nine other officials of the Department of Health, as well as former and current executives of the Food and Drug Administration, and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for distributing Dengvaxia to 830,000 public school children during the Aquino administration.
Sanofi Pasteur Inc., the manufacturer of the controversial vaccine, was also charged since the Justice panel found that the company indirectly admitted that Dengvaxia was a defective product due to the risk it poses to seronegatives—or those that had not come in contact with dengue before.
According to the prosecutors, Garin and the other respondents were careless in implementing the mass immunization program as they failed to fully inform the Dengvaxia recipients of the nature and risks of the vaccine and obtain informed consent.
In a statement, Garin maintained her innocence, noting that of the seven criminal cases filed against her, six have been dismissed for “lack of basis and substance.”
She also insisted that there is no scientific evidence that Dengvaxia leads to deaths.
“Science has proven over and over again that no deaths have been linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine. Almost the whole world is using it now and no case like ours has surfaced,” Garin said in a statement.
The Philippines implemented in 2016 the use of Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine, but prosecutors said clinical trials were not yet completed.
In November 2017, Sanofi disclosed that those without prior dengue infection are at risk of having “severe disease” if immunized with Dengvaxia and the Health department has since stopped the vaccination program.