Duterte forms 3-man expert panel to study Dengvaxia

MANILAPresident Rodrigo R. Duterte has created a three-man panel of experts to find out if the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccines are deadly, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

The President, after much discussion, said that he will create a three-man panel of expertsall Asians, no Westernersand he will be bound by the findings of these three-man experts on the issue of whether or not Dengvaxia actually cause deaths, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

To date, the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) expert panel tapped by the Department of Health (DOH) each has their own findings on Dengvaxia. However, Roque said that Duterte wanted to seek advice from disinterested parties.

Roque said that this meant that the three-panel of experts will have no links with the government and Dengvaxia supplier, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.

The problem of the President is although there is a finding of a PAO expert and there is the PGH panel of experts' finding, as a lawyer and former prosecutor, he knows that expert witnesses can cancel out each other's testimonies, Roque said.

In effect, he said that with conflicting testimonies from the experts from PAO and the PGH, he is constrained to seek further advice from disinterested parties and that's why he requested that the panel of experts should be foreign, should have no links absolutely with the Philippine government, he added.

Roque said that Duterte will trust the opinion of the three-member expert panel so that the nation will be able to move on from the issue of Dengvaxia once and for all.

He said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has already submitted to Duterte a list of possible names of members of the three-man expert panel.

There is a list already submitted to him. There was a mention of experts from Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, recommended by the DOH, Roque said but did not give further details.

For the meantime, Roque said Duterte has expressed support for the initiative of the DOH to urge the Congress to pass a law to spend the amount refunded from Sanofi.

Suportado po ng Presidente yung lahat ng initiatives ng DOH ngayon kasama na yung paghingi ng isang batas sa Kongreso para magastos po yung halaga na ni-refund ng Sanofi sa atin, mga PHP1 billion plus, para matulungan yung mga naging biktima ng Dengvaxia (The President supports all the initiatives of DOH now including seeking for the passage of a law in the Congress to allow the use of refund from Sanofi, around PHP1 billion, to help the victims of Dengvaxia), Roque said.

On November 2017, Sanofi issued a global advisory warning of the risks of administering Dengvaxia to persons with no history of dengue.

This announcement led to a series of congressional investigations of the role of officials during the Aquino administration which began administering the vaccine to thousands of children in 2016.

At least six cases have been filed against former Health secretary Janette Garin, Duque, and other incumbent and former health officials in connection with the Dengvaxia mess. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency