Former President Aquino as he appeared to file his response to the electioneering case filed against him and his officials by the VACC related to the school based immunization program he launched said: “People’s Health cannot be held in abeyance!”
He pointed out that there was an existing Dengue epidemic as declared by former Secretary Enrique Ona way back in 2014 where Ona said: “Dengue in the Philippines has in recent years become an epidemic.” Secretary Ona at that time had ordered the DOH to battle the Dengue epidemic using an untried and unproven drug called ActRX Triact, ordering clinical trials on over 2,000 patients without any FDA approval. This partly caused his resignation from the DOH.
The former President added that the government acted based on what it knew at that time. He called the cases being filed against him and former officials as pure harassment. Aquino has been very active in attending the hearings in the Senate and the House of Representatives on the issue of Dengvaxia.
Former Health Secretary Janette Garin who also filed her reply at the COMELEC said that the accusations were malicious since the program was school based in nature and only implemented in 3 Regions. “There was absolutely no politics involved in the school-based dengue immunization program I implemented. The recipients of the program are not voters. It could not have swayed any election results. Everything was above board and is beyond politics. The immunization program is a purely health issue.”
President Aquino said that health programs are not banned during periods of election specially when it concerns the health and welfare of the people. He showed a graph from the DOH epidemiology department showing the sharp increase in dengue incidence in the country starting in 2010 when there was a 140% rise from 2009. He explained that the fight against the dengue virus is based on sound data from the DOH and the WHO.
Accusations of politics using the immunization were belied by former government officials since the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte had continued the program under the helm of DOH Secretary Ubial. According to Senator Gatchalian, Ubial had expanded the program to Region 7 and had over 10,000 policemen and their families immunized with the Dengvaxia vaccine.
In the last Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing held at the Senate, Dr. Scott Halstead a global Dengue expert pointed out the following: 1) The Dengvaxia vaccine cannot be diagnosed in an authopsy; 2) Neurotropism and Viscerotropism cannot be related to Dengvaxia because these are terms related only to yellow fever and not dengue; 3) Dengvaxia does not cause any other illness; and 4) He cannot blame the former Health Minister of the Philippines as they (DOH) acted in good faith. Halstead said that Dengvaxia was effective in protecting against the dengue virus for those who are seropositive or those who have had dengue previously, but not effective in preventing the disease for those who have not had it yet. He suggested that the government take immediate steps to care for those who have been vaccinated.
This news has been verified by NewsmePH