ANOTHER child who had been inoculated with Dengvaxia, the world’s first anti-dengue vaccine, died in Parañaque City on Sunday, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said.
Dante Jimenez, chairman of the anti-crime group, said the latest victim was a student between 9 and 11 years of age. If tests confirmed dengue was the cause of death, the child would be the second reported Dengvaxia victim in Metro Manila.
“The victim died today in Parañaque, but we could not give further details about the child out of respect to the family,” Jimenez said in an interview with The Manila Times.
The child, Jimenez said, died several months after being injected with Dengvaxia under the massive immunization program of the Department of Health (DoH).
“We will request the PAO (Public Attorney’s Office) forensic to conduct forensic examination on the victim to determine if the death is linked to Dengvaxia,” Jimenez said.
The PAO has already examined seven victims, whose deaths were believed to have been caused by the anti-dengue vaccine produced by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur.
The first victim was Christine Mae de Guzman, a 10-year-old pupil from Bataan who died six months after receiving the initial dose of the vaccine in 2016. Her body was exhumed recently for further examination.
In December, 10-year-old Anjielica Pestillos of Quezon City died of lupus after receiving Dengvaxia vaccine. The other victims were from the provinces of Bataan, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan.
PAO Forensic Laboratory Director Erwin Erfe said that in the seven examinations they have conducted, the common findings were extensive organ bleeding and enlarged organs.
The Health department during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino 3rd launched the school-based anti-dengue vaccination program in April 2016. The program only covered 9-year-old public school students in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon).
About 850,000 school children have been inoculated with the Dengvaxia.
In November last year, Sanofi issued a statement admitting that Dengvaxia could increase risk of hospitalization for dengue and severe dengue on individuals who have not been previously infected by the disease.
The government had demanded a refund from Sanofi Pasteur, adding that the company should also defray the cost of tests for the vaccine’s recipients. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd insisted, however, that the Health department should not just ask for a refund on unused vaccines, but for the cost of the entire contract.
“All the vaccines were defective from the very beginning. Therefore, under our laws, we should demand the whole P3.5 billion we paid them and not just part of it,” Pimentel said.
He noted that under the Civil Code, the government could have a defective product replaced or refunded and since there is no possible replacement for the vaccine, refund is the only option.
The Senate chief added that even if Sanofi pays the full amount, it will still have to face all liabilities that may arise from putting more than 800,000 children at risk.
The Senate blue ribbon committee is currently investigating the procurement of Dengvaxia.
The Senate health committee chaired by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito is considering conducting a separate hearing into the issue to focus on the health aspect.