“Acosta [is] saying she’s cooperating with the DOH? She’s not.”
This was the statement of newly confirmed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday regarding Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta’s lack of cooperation on the Department of Health’s (DOH) investigation on the now called off dengue vaccination program.
Duque told reporters that Acosta was not responding to the department’s letters requesting for a copy of PAO’s report that claimed to have found a “pattern” which is allegedly linked to the death of at least five Dengvaxia-vaccinated individuals.
“Usec. Eric Domingo has written letters to them, but there’s no response. So what are they talking about? We wrote them letters asking to help each other,” the health chief said.
Acosta, for her part, dismissed Duque’s allegation, saying that she answered the letters that were sent by the department.
“We had a reply sent to Usec. Domingo. He (Duque) must ask Usec. Domingo for the copies of our replies,” the PAO chief was quoted as saying in an ABS-CBN News report.
Acosta added that the DOH has not taken notice of a request for a copy of the list of all children who received the vaccine under the immunization program.
“What cooperation does he want? We are asking for the master list of Dengvac (dengue vaccine) children but until now wala sila ibinibigay (they aren’t giving anything),“ she said.
According to the health chief, it is necessary to have a complementation of the findings of PAO over the Dengvaxia probe.
“’Yung tissues or autopsy results kailangan gamitin ‘yun kasama ang clinical audit and medical report na ginawa ng expert panel ng UP-PGH, at magkaroon ng complementation, hindi ‘yung pinaglalaban, kundi complementation, synergy (The tissues or autopsy results is needed to be used, including the clinical audit and medical report that was made by UP-PGH panel of experts, and to have a complementation, synergy),” Duque said.
However, the PAO chief stressed that the DOH can instead conduct autopsies on the bodies of 14 children who received Dengvaxia.
“They may conduct autopsies [of] their 14 cases that was subject of the Friday [press conference] anytime if parents would give consent to it,” she said, in reference to findings earlier bared to media
When Sanofi Pasteur, Dengvaxia manufacturer, admitted that the vaccine could lead to severe diseases if administered to individuals who have not been infected by the virus before, the health chief halted the school-based immunization program in December 2017.
At least 830,000 public school students in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon had been vaccinated under the government’s program.
On February 2, Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo presented the findings of UP-PGH Dengue Investigative Task Force in a press conference, showing that three out of the 14 Dengvaxia-vaccinated children died of dengue after receiving the vaccine.
The report stated that three children died due to what they called dengue shock syndrome, while two of the three deaths could have resulted from vaccine failure.