Chief public prosecutor accuses senior health officials of cover-up

  • A nurse displays vials of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which have been recalled from local health centers, in the district of Manila on December 5, 2017, following the suspension of the country’s public dengue immunisation programme. Philippines has suspended the sale and distribution of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine, authorities said on December 5, after the French pharmaceutical giant last week warned it could worsen symptoms for people who had not previously been infected. / AFP PHOTO / Ted ALJIBE

Philippine chief public attorney has accused health officials who claimed the government’s anti-dengue immunization program did not cause deaths among vaccinated children of being “liars”, The Manila Times Online reported on Wednesday (Dec 20).

Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Tuesday presented to the media the parents of children who died because of severe dengue after being inoculated with the vaccine and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told the media that there was an ongoing wide-scale cover-up of senior Department of Health officials and he would urge the National Bureau of Investigation to earnestly investigate DoH officials.

The government suspended the vaccination program this month after its French manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, warned that the vaccine, Dengvaxia, might worsen the disease in those who have not been exposed by dengue previously.

Over 830,000 children from public schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Cebu were administered the vaccine beginning last year.

Ramil Pestillos, father of 10-year old Anjielica and Nelson de Guzman, father of 11-year old Christine, were presented to the media in Manila on Tuesday.

De Guzman said his daughter had no history of dengue infection.  He added that she received the vaccine shot in April 2016 and, after that in October 11, she suffered from severe headache and fever and was rushed to Bataan general hospital on October 14.  She died on October 15.

Chief public attorney Acosta said all victims would receive free legal assistance.