By Jeffrey Damicog
Former Health Secretary Janette Garin continues to deny that there was anyone who died from the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
This is one of the points she raised in her counter-affidavit which sought to dismiss the complaints filed by the families of eight dead children who got inoculated with the vaccine.
“The separate death certificates of the complainants’ children unequivocally show that their respective children died due to various health conditions which they develop without any material connection to the date of the vaccination,” read the counter-affidavit she filed on Monday before the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaints.
With this, Garin appealed to the panel not to accept the autopsies conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) forensics team led by Dr. Erwin Erfe which claimed that the children’s deaths is connected with the vaccine.
“The findings cited in the PAO Report and Memorandum is not supported by medical and scientific evidence,” she said.
“Moreover, the ‘findings’ are worthless because they were derived from a totally out of protocol procedure not sanctioned by the science behind pathology or the casual study of disease,” she added.
Garin cited the supporting affidavit of expert anatomic and clinical pathologist Dr. Raymond Lo who said “Dr. Erfe’s forensic report lacks a logically made clinic pathologic correlation.”
The complaints concern the deaths of children, namely, Roshaine Cariño, Christine Joy Asuncion, Clarissa Alcantara, Erico Mendoza Leabres, Christine Mae de Guzman, John Paul Rafael, Michael Tablate, and Naomi Nimura.
In their separate complaints, the complainants, mostly parents of the children, accused the respondents of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; torture resulting in the death of a person in violation of Section 4(ii) and (14) in relation to Section 14(a)(1) and (5) of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; torture committed against children in violation of Section 15 of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; defective product in violation of Article 97 in relation to Article 100, in relation of Article 107 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines; and mislabeled product in violation of Article 89 in relation to 95 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
The complaints are part of the second batch of complaints filed against Garin and her co-respondents.
She and her co-respondents are facing 19 other complaints concerning the deaths of 19 other persons mostly children who received shots of Dengvaxia.
Those who died were among the over 830,000 persons who got inoculated with Dengvaxia after the government bought from the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur in 2016 the vaccine for P3.5 billion.
The PAO, which represents the complainants, had insisted that the mass vaccination shouldn’t have taken place since there were already warnings about Dengvaxia’s deadly side effects and that the vaccine remains experimental.
In her counter-affidavit, Garin said “it is not accurate to state that I spearheaded the purchase of Dengvaxia and the implementation of the Dengue Immunization Program because the program study, procedures, and other efforts were all started even before she joined the DOH (Department of Health).”
“It is important to note that as early as 2005 even when I was not yet part of the DOH, the Philippines has taken part in the development of the Dengue Vaccine,” the former DOH chief cited.
“In 2013, the DOH through Secretary (Enrique) Ona recognized the need for the implementation of a dengue immunization program given the rising dengue cases in the Philippines. Thus, dengue vaccine was among the four new vaccines identified for inclusion in the DOH’s 5-year strategic plan for the ‘Philippine Immunization Program’ for 2015-2019,” she recounted.
Garin also denied that the dengue immunization program was implemented on a mass scale.
“Quite the contrary, the Program was launched on a sub-national basis and only in three regions, which were identified as comprising 50% of the national dengue incidents. These areas were carefully selected, using epidemiological makers, in order to ensure the beneficial effects of the Dengue Immunization Program,” she said.
“It bears noting that my successor, Sec. (Paulyn Jean) Ubial, during the 14 December 2017 hearing before the Senate, testified that she continued the dengue immunization program, but expanded its coverage as well,” she pointed out.
Garin also filed a complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Ubial whom she accused of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide concerning the deaths of children who got inoculated with Dengvaxia.