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Autopsy won’t reveal if vaccinated children died of Dengvaxia, says dengue expert

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Autopsy on the remains of children inoculated with Dengvaxia will not yield any findings indicating that the death was caused by the anti-dengue vaccine.

“Please be aware that the diagnosis of Dengvaxia cannot be based on an autopsy,” Dr. Scott Halstead, an expert on dengue disease and who has been studying vaccines since 1957, told Senate probers Tuesday.

“There are a lot of autopsies being done now because unfortunately children die for one reason or another after vaccine. This is a very old phenomenon. I’ve been in the vaccine business forever, there’s always a problem like this, he added.

Halstead was asked by Sen. JV Ejercito, during the concluding public investigation in the Senate on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, on the feasibility of arriving at such findings by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) forensic team.

Ejercito took up the matter apparently in reference to reports where the PAO, which is investigating the deaths allegedly linked to Dengvaxia, had claimed of finding a supposed pattern that led to the deaths of at least five children who received Dengvaxia.

“In any child who died post Dengvaxia (vaccination), there has to be two things. One is an unequivocal evidence that the infection was caused by dengue virus. The second one is we need to know whether the vaccine in that particular individual was given when the individual was seronegative or seropositive,” Halstead said.

Seronegative refer to those who had never been infected with dengue virus.

Studies that came out late last year showed that Dengvaxia, when administered to those seronegative individuals are likely to have severe dengue if infected by the mosquito-borne virus.

The US-based scientist that from what he has gathered so far, the

actual vaccine Dengvaxia manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur “does not cause any illness whatsoever.”

Halstead noted the similarity on the measles vaccine when it was market in the US some 40 to 50 years ago.

“What happened there is, two years after the measles vaccines were given, two (persons) acquired measles but it wasn’t just ordinary measles, it was a very severe measles that ended in death,” he said.

“So we’ve encountered this phenomenon before. But here is a much bigger group of people who are exposed. We don’t want to have available vaccine where people inadvertently receive antibodies that are going to be detrimental,” he added.

There actually a test that Sanofi has developed and which can actually tell whether an individual who was given a Dengavaxia is seronegative or seropositive, Halstead said.

It’s available in several laboratory but not yet in the Philippines, unfortunately.

“Would you say that the present Dengvaxia vaccine is safe and effective?” Ejercito asked.

“The only available (anti-dengue vaccine) in the market is Dengvaxia. It’s effective in protecting people who had prior Dengue, yes. It’s not effective in preventing disease in people who are seronegative at the time they’re vaccinated,” Halstead said.#