Asian experts to probe Dengvaxia mess

Image from The Straits Times

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to name soon the members of the Asian panel of experts to look into the issue of whether Dengvaxia actually caused the death of some of those inoculated with the anti-dengue vaccine.

At least four names have been submitted to the President by Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco Duque III during Monday’s Cabinet meeting, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“So far that was what was agreed upon,” Roque said, adding that the President will choose who among those on the list submitted to him by Duque will form part of the panel of experts.

“I do not have their names, I only know their nationalities. One is from Vietnam, another from Thailand, there’s also from Singapore and from Sri Lanka,” he said.
From his understanding of the discussion the night before, the President will choose three out of the four.

“So it’s up to the President to choose (who among them will be in the panel). We have more than enough budget to invite them here to the Philippines and conduct a study or carry out what needs to be studied for them to arrive at a conclusion of the actual effects of Dengvaxia,” Roque said.

All of the members of the prospective panel are considered independent health experts as they have no ties whatsoever with the Philippine government and the vaccine manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.

Conflicting findings of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on the cause of deaths of some children administered with Dengvaxia had prompted the President to seek further advice through some foreign panel of experts.

Although there are separate findings arrived at by PAO and UP-PGH experts, the President’s concern, as a lawyer and former prosecutor, is that he knows that expert witnesses can cancel out their testimonies, Roque said.