Aquino: No evidence linking Dengvaxia to deaths

THERE is no evidence, so far, linking Dengvaxia, a controversial anti-dengue vaccine to the deaths to which it has been blamed for, former President Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Monday.

“To this day, wala pang nagpapakita na ang Dengvaxia ay nakamamatay,” Aquino said in a televised press briefing at the Department of Justice (DOJ) where he, former Budget secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and former Health secretary Janette Garin filed their counter-affidavits to plunder and electioneering charges, which they denied.

(There is no proof that Dengvaxia kills.)

“Noong dumating itong vaccine, nagkaroon tayo ng bagong armas laban sa dengue.”

(When this vaccine came, we had a new means to fight dengue.)

The former president also said that his government did what the World Health Organization (WHO) and other studies recommended to address the problem of dengue.

“Ang risk ng mga maaaring magkaroon ng severe dengue ay .2% na hindi pa tiyak kung dadapuan ng sakit.”

(The risk of having severe dengue is .2%.)

Aquino said that as a result of the Dengvaxia scare, parents have been avoiding vaccination of any form. He also believed that the controversy was being sensationalized.

“Dahil sa pananakot sa balita, ang dami nang magulang na tinanggihan ang vaccination, pati deworming tinanggihan,” Aquino said.

(Because of news reports, parents have been refusing vaccination of any form, even deworming.)

Aquino maintained that no Omnibus Election Code was violated during the purchase of the vaccine.

“Mayroon ba kaming na-violate sa Omnibus Election Code?” Aquino asked

(Did we violate any Omnibus Election Code?).

“Ang ipinagbabawal ay paggastos pagdating ng election ban, which was [from]March 26 to May 9. Ang last action kaugnay ng disbursement ay nangyari noong March 9, hindi part ng election ban.”

(Spending was banned from March 26 to May 9 and the last action on the disbursement happened on March 9.)

The controversy stemmed from an admission by Dengvaxia manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, that the vaccine posed a risk to first-time Dengue patients.

The Department of Health (DOH), under Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, ordered a stop to the mass immunization program following the Sanofi disclosure.

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) claimed that 57 people, mostly children, have died after they were injected with the Dengvaxia vaccine.

The DOJ conducted a preliminary investigation on Aquino, Abad and Garin following a complaint filed by Commissioner Manuelito Luna of the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); and Eligio Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag heads the investigating panel with Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez, Assistant State Prosecutors Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Gino Paolo Santiago as members.

The VACC and VPCI filed the complaint against Aquino, Abad and Garin for possible violation of Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); Section 65 of RA 9184 (Government Procurement, Reform Act); Article 220 (Technical Malversation) of the Revised Penal Code; Article 365 (Criminal Negligence) of the Revised Penal Code; and for other violations of the law. ARIC JOHN SY CUA, JOMAR CANLAS

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