PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is considering tapping a foreign third-party pathologist to examine the bodies of children suspected of having died from severe dengue caused by the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, Malacañang said Friday, February 9.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte raised his plan to consult a foreign expert during his meeting with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair Dante Jimenez, and Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta on Thursday, February 8.
"Because of lack of clinical pathologists here in the Philippines, the President said that if need be, we will look for a foreign clinical pathologist to examine the children suspected to have died because of Dengvaxia vaccine," he told reporters in Camarines Sur.
"That's what has been agreed during yesterday's meeting," he added.
Dengvaxia, which is manufactured by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, is the world's first approved anti-dengue vaccine. Recent findings showed that it may cause severe dengue in seronegative individuals, or those who have not contracted the dengue virus prior to inoculation.
Over 830,000 Filipino children have received the vaccine before the Department of Health suspended the vaccination program because of Sanofi's recent findings.
Around 14 of the children who received Dengvaxia have reportedly died, but the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (PGH) earlier found that three of the 14 fatalities may have died from vaccine failure.
The Justice secretary earlier suggested to bring into the country a competent foreign pathologist who can examine the bodies of children suspected of having died as a result of Dengvaxia shots.
He said the PGH findings might not be accurate as these were only based on the report of Dr. Erwin Erfe.
The Justice secretary had stressed that Erfe, a forensic physician who led the PAO team in conducting the autopsies on suspected Dengvaxia victims, made a report that is "not an expert opinion" since he is not a pathologist.
Roque said Duterte also reiterated his stance to run after individuals responsible for the dengue vaccine program.
"The President declared that if need be, he will hold accountable those who must be held accountable over this Dengvaxia issue, which is the reason why many parents are concerned over their childrens' health," he said. (SunStar Philippines)