PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he is “not prepared to condemn anybody” on the controversial dengue vaccination issue as he believes that the implementation of such program was done in “good faith.”
Speaking to reporters, Duterte said if he was the president then and Dengvaxia can save lives, he would also implement it until he is told not to do so.
“Considering my position, I will order the implementation, unless there’s a study or a counter statement to the efficacy and the danger of the drug,” Duterte said during a press conference.
“Wala akong choice pagka-mayroon at marami nang namatay and there’s a vaccine, and wala naman akong advice na huwag iyan, or the advice was not proper, I cannot blame anybody,” he added.
The President also said he could not yet condemn government officials behind the Dengvaxia vaccine pending investigation.
“I am not an expert and I do not assume that those deaths are already automatically connected with the side or toxic effects of (Dengavaxia), unless there is an investigation and the person whom we are trying to attribute the responsibility is given the chance to be heard and to air their findings in public,” Duterte said.
“So I’m not prepared to pass judgment. I can only inquire and hope that everything will give us the truth because anything here in this planet requires truth…it’s good faith. If you really think in good faith that you are doing the right thing, nobody but nobody can question you, except your conscience,” he added.
The President also said he believes that French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur is a “reputable company in the world of drug manufacturing.”
“So I do not think that they will be ready to destroy a billion dollar business just for one lousy (problem),” Duterte said.
“If there is a failure, let them sort it out. An independent investigation. Congress would do it.If they’d get to listen to the experts who are available here in the Philippines today. If not, they can always commission another body to come up with an independent study,” he added.
The Philippines has suspended the dengue vaccination program after Sanofi disclosed that the vaccine may cause more severe symptoms on those who had not been previously infected by the mosquito-borne disease.
At least 830,000 children have received the first dose of Dengvaxia since 2016, according to the Department of Health..
On Monday, Sanofi Head for Asia Pacific Thomas Triomphe said there are no deaths linked to the controversial dengue vaccine, which is still being used in 11 other countries.