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Asian experts to start probe on Dengvaxia mess this month

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By Prince Golez

The three-man panel of Asian health experts that would examine the effects of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine will begin its investigation “probably fourth week” of September, according to the Department of Health.

“As soon as possible eh… Baka within the month, we’ll see. Probably the third, no, no, probably fourth week kasi siyempre maghahanda pa sila, then they’ll travel. But you know, these are experts. Alam na nila kung ano gagawin nila,” Secretary Francisco Duque III told Politiko on Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered in May the creation of an Asian panel of experts that would study whether or not the anti-dengue vaccine caused the deaths of schoolchildren who were injected with Sanofi’s Dengvaxia.

“Pagdating nila dito… lahat ng documents… Andun naman sa terms of reference, ano ba ‘yung mga kailangan, ang lahat ng available documents from DOH, from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), from the UP-PGH (University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital) and also other pertinent relevant documents have to be culled, put together, that will now serve as a basis for their review and evaluation or assessment of the current situation, and also establish the real cause of deaths,” Duque added.

The DOH official said the experts panel will clarify the differences in the findings between the UP-PGH and PAO related to dengue vaccination.

“Because there are two sides to this controversy. First is the theory that the Dengvaxia caused the deaths of, according to PAO, almost 82, but UP-PGH says another thing, that causes of deaths are not Dengvaxia directly; could be failure of the vaccine kaya nagka dengue so nagkaroon ng dengue shock syndrome namatay,” he said

The immunization program against dengue using Dengvaxia vaccine began in 2016 under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.

The DOH suspended the program in 2017 after Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur said the vaccine should only be given to those who have been infected with dengue.