Malacañang will tap a three-man panel of foreign health experts to conduct independent scientific research about Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine, and its impact on the immunized children in the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said President Rodrigo Duterte seeks a more comprehensive and independent report after the conflicting reports on the matter by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Department of Health (DOH).
Roque said Duterte “will create a three-man panel of Asian experts” and that he “will be bound by the findings of this three-man expert team on the issue of whether or not Dengvaxia actually caused deaths.”
“Now the problem of the president is – although there is a finding of a PAO expert and there is the Philippine General Hospital panel of experts findings – as a lawyer and a former prosecutor, he knows that expert witnesses can cancel out each other’s testimonies,” he added.
The opinion from independent experts will help in the probe to strengthen the government’s move to make Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia, accountable for what happened.
A list of expert pathologists that DOH submitted are now with Duterte.
Malacañang is also hoping for the passage of a law seeking to allow the government to use the P1.2 billion refunded by Sanofi for much-needed medical support and assistance for the vaccinated children who fell ill.
DOH suspended the mass immunization program on Dec. 1, 2017 after Sanofi Pasteur announced that the vaccine poses threat of severe symptoms to those who have not been previously exposed to Dengue.
Dengvaxia was administered to about 800,000 public school students aged nine years old and above starting April 2016.
1,967 out of the 3,281 students hospitalized for various illnesses after being vaccinated contracted dengue, DOH said in a statement last month.
Last year, Gabriela filed a graft complaint against former health secretary Janette Garin former president Benigno Aquino III and former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa in connection with the Dengvaxia controversy.