Scott Halstead, foremost US Dengue expert testified in the joint Blue Ribbon and Health Committee hearings of the Senate said: “The Diagnosis of Dengvaxia cannot be based on autopsy! There are a lot of autopsies being done now because, unfortunately, children die for one reason or another after vaccination. This is a very old phenomenon. I’ve been in the vaccine business forever and there are always problems like this.”
Halstead had directly disputed the Philippine Public Attorney’s Office position and the claims of its Head, PAO Chief Persida Acosta that the autopsies they have conducted are directly linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine. The continued PAO announcements in media created panic and hysteria among the parents vaccinated with the vaccine and the population at large. This led to a 40% percent decline in the whole free immunization programs conducted by the Department of Health. Earlier in the week, the DOH had warned the PAO against coming out with inconclusive statements.
Despite the announcements of PAO Medico-legal Erwin Erfe and PAO consultant Dr. Amata of the Ospital ng Maynila that they do not have conclusive evidence, PAO Chief Acosta continued on with her claim “namatay dahil sa Dengvaxia” (deaths were caused by Dengvaxia) stating that these were the results of the autopsies they conducted which she claimed were signs of viscerotropism and neurotropism. (these were echoed by Dr. Suzy Pineda Mercado in her various TV interviews).
Halstead debunked these saying: “it is not appropriate to use the terms viscerotropism and neurotropism in relation to Dengvaxia. Viscerotropism is a medical term defining the effect on the body’s internal organs, usually the heart, lungs and liver; while neurotropism refers to the effect on the nerves. These terms are applied to Yellow Fever and not dengue.”
At the time that the school based dengue immunization was introduced, the Philippines was experiencing a Dengue epidemic with more than 200,000 cases of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever affecting the Philippines according to World Health Organization data. The Philippine was at the top of the list in Western Pacific Area and number 1 among ASEAN countries. Dengue expert Dr. Scott Halstead said that “He could not blame the Philippines Health Minister at that time because they had acted in good faith.” The Sanofi findings only came out in November of 2017.
Halstead continued by saying that people should not be afraid of vaccinations and added that people who were vaccinated by Dengvaxia should be monitored and given care. DOH Secretary has already ordered the establishment of Dengue fast-lanes in all public and private hospitals to care for the immunized and those afflicted by Dengue. “Halstead added: “We don’t want people to feel vaccines are dangerous and maintained that Dengvaxia remains effective in protecting people who are seropositive for the dengue virus (those who have had dengue) but not effective in preventing the disease for those who are seronegative at the time of immunization.”
When the school based dengue immunization was launched using Dengvaxia, 400,000 plus students aged 9-14 (highest at risk for dengue based on DOH data) were given the first dose in limited areas with high dengue incidence. Secretary Paulyn Ubial would continue the program and expand it to other areas, converting to the community based program providing the 2nd and 3rd doses to those previously immunized and the 1st up to the 3rd doses among the remainder of 830,000 students and over 10,000 policemen and their families. Secretary Duque would also continue the program and later on suspend it due to the public outcry caused by the PAO.
During the time of Secretary Enrique Ona, a national dengue immunization program was launched using a different untested drug called ActRX Triact. The school based program was a continuation of the said immunization program of the DOH, but using the WHO approved Dengvaxia.
With the pronouncements of Halstead. Senator Gordon ended the Senate Hearings on Dengvaxia and said that the report will be forthcoming.
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This news has been verified by NewsmePh
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