Padilla: Demonizing Dengvaxia

AS BAD as it may sound, I will start with a disclaimer that I am not a medical expert nor medically trained. But this recent demonizing of Dengvaxia has gone overboard making one think that the vaccine was made at a backyard sans scientific research. Since my knowledge is inadequate I have relied on the expertise of the doctors trained at UP-PGH, two of whom have been my professors.

On February 2, 2018, the Department of Health (DOH) released the report by 'an independent group of experts' who reviewed the first cases of mortalities among administered with Dengvaxia vaccine. These experts were doctors from UP and PGH who were referred to as forensic pathologists.

According to medical doctor and UP professor, Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, "None of the deaths of the 14 children autopsied were proven to be due to Dengvaxia. In fact, the deaths of 13 of them were totally unrelated to the vaccine. It now appears that only one case might be causally associated with the vaccine. That is the one with dengue and with antibodies to dengue. However, it has yet to be determined if the vaccine had anything to do with the death. In two of the children autopsied, it was noted that vaccine failure may have been the cause. This means that antibodies were produced and so they could not have suffered from an antibody enhanced reaction. Hence the two most likely died of dengue not due to the vaccine.

These findings mean that in diagnosing all 14 autopsied children as having dengue as a complication of Dengvaxia, Dr. Erfe of the PAO was wrong in practically all of the 14. He may at the very best have been correct in only one of 14 of the cases, or 7 percent; and wrong in 13 of 14 or 93 percent. In actuality he is probably wrong in all given that any actual causative relationship between the death of the one child to the vaccine is yet to be determined."

Dengvaxia has been administered to more than 830,000 Filipino children from March 2016 to October 2017. Wisdom from the oracle of popular knowledge, Google, shows that no vaccine in the world is 100-percent safe. From the start, Dengvaxia, was not expected to be 100 percent effective. It was only 90-percent effective. As wont, only when any drug is used on millions and in longer term can other adverse claims be noticed which may not necessitate recall but only changes in usage. Sanofi's reported an increased risk of dengue of 5 in 1000 on the third year, diminishing thereafter. None of those led to hemorrhagic shock and all recovered. In the Philippines, Dengvaxia was given only to: communities where 70 percent of the population have had dengue and children older than 9 years old. It was also scheduled to be given in three doses. This means the DOH followed the protocol set by the World Health Organization.

The current legal appreciation of Dengvaxia continues to create fear and confusion especially when reports show lachrymose parents of one or two of the 14 children without expert forensic medical opinion to supplement the report. In effect there is a reported decline vaccination even with those that have been long proven to be effective like tetanus, mumps, polio, rubella, pneumonia, chicken pox, and measles. If unchecked, this could lead to various outbreaks far more critical than dengue. In effect, who is to blame if the country suddenly finds itself beleaguered by what could have been preventable diseases? Definitely, not Sanofi-Pasteur. Then to whom should we run to for help if we get a new wave of plague? The medical experts, of course, and not to the legal minds who often make a conundrum out or everything.
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