Philippines: PAO, VACC to file a case demanding P4m for 10-year-old's death due to Dengvaxia vaccine

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The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) are demanding P4 million in damages in a civil case which they are planning to file this Monday related to the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia. The case will be filed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Philippines.

The groups will also be filing a case at the Office of the President against all those responsible for carrying out the faulty anti-dengue immunization program and convincing people to use Dengvaxia. The case, as per reports, is being filed on behalf of 10-year-old Angielica Pestilos's family who died in December 2017, just months after taking the vaccine.

Erwin Erfe, forensic expert of PAO, in a press conference, said that Pestilos never had a history of dengue but had lupus which was a pre-existing one. This should have disqualified her from taking the vaccine. Doctors suspect that the dengue vaccine might have reacted as after she was injected with Dengvaxia, she developed a disease originating from the viscerotropic virus.

Pestilos happens to be one of the 15 children autopsied by PAO in relation to the controversial dengue vaccine. The bodies of another six children will be autopsied later this week. However, a group of doctors and former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral are standing against this move, raising suspicion.

VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio accused the French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur who made the vaccine. PAO chief Persida Acosta urged Department of Health (DOH), Secretary Francisco Duque, to give free medicines to the families of 827,000 schoolchildren injected with Dengvaxia.

Sanofi revealed last November that Dengvaxia, world's first dengue vaccine might increase chances of other diseases in people who had never been exposed to the virus.

"We sympathize with all the families who have suffered the loss of a child. Sanofi Pasteur's mission is to reduce or eliminate suffering for millions around the world through vaccination, including in the Philippines," a spokesman for the French drugmaker said in a statement.

This enraged the people in Philippines where at least 800,000 school children had been vaccinated in 2016. The vaccine may have been responsible for the death of three as of now. After this incident, the Health Ministry has decided to stop the vaccine.

"Three cases were found to have a causal association. They died of dengue even (though) they were given Dengvaxia. Two of them may have died because of vaccine failure," Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said in a news conference.

The Philippines has already spent 3.5 billion pesos ($68 million) on the Dengvaxia programme. After the revelation, the government has already fined Sanofi $2,000, claiming violations in product registration and marketing.