Further tests, autopsies needed on Dengvaxia-linked deaths: Duque


Posted at Feb 05 2018 01:46 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2018 02:21 PM

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MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III insists more tests are needed on the deaths linked to the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia as reflected in the findings of a third-party group of experts.

During a House committee hearing, Duque said findings by a UP-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Dengue Investigative Task Force, which links 3 of 14 deaths to Dengvaxia, are still preliminary. 

"These findings by the UP-PGH are preliminary. If you are to peruse the entire document, it will say in a large part that further tests are required. Also, in at least 3 other cases, they were very definitive in asking that autopsies be done," said the DOH chief.

Duque said they are hopeful that the findings by the UP-PGH experts, along with those of other investigative bodies, will put together pieces of evidence that can stand in court. 

Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier called on the Department of Justice to stop the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) from conducting further autopsies following the UP-PGH findings.

But PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta refused to heed the call of Cabral, and proceeded to warn her that she may be held liable for obstruction of justice. 

For its part, Sanofi said it hasn't read the report of the UP-PGH group. The drug-maker said it "sympathizes" with the families of the children who allegedly died due to severe dengue, but maintained that Dengvaxia did not cause the deaths.

The Health department tapped the UP-PGH group to get a credible audit and analysis of alleged Dengvaxia-caused deaths. 

The PAO is set to file a civil and administrative complaints over the vaccine controversy.