NBI to probe dengue vaccine fiasco

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe and file possible criminal charges against people involved in the controversial PHP3.5-billion dengue vaccine project of the Department of Health (DOH).

In Department Order (DO) No. 749, Aguirre also directed the NBI to submit a status report on their investigation regarding the issue, adding that he did not give any time frame on their probe.

He said the probe will look into whether government officials should be held liable for the seemingly rushed procurement of the vaccine and immunization of more than 700,000 children.

"Did the government follow, or did they receive the warning from Sanofi?" Aguirre said in Filipino.

The announcement was actually made in late November. Sanofi said it had found out that those who had not had dengue before and had been vaccinated with its Dengvaxia "more cases of severe disease could occur."

"Is there criminal liability? A graft and corruption aspect?" Aguirre said.

According to Aguirre, other countries which used Dengvaxia in their campaign to combat the mosquito-borne disease administered the vaccine only in limited amounts.

It's only (the Philippines) which implemented it in large scale. Other countries wanted to know first the effects of the vaccine, the justice secretary said.

Aguirre asked those families or whose children were adversely affected by the vaccine to come forward and help the government mitigate its effects.

Nananawagan po kami sa mga ininjectionan na mayroon na adverse (effects) sa inyong anak (We call upon those whose children have been injected with the dengue vaccine and had experienced adverse effects from it). Come forward to us, give (information) to the NBI and help the NBI para matukoy natin at malaman ng government natin kung ano nangyari lalo yung may adverse (effect) sa naturukan ng vaccine na ito (so we can identify and let the government know what has happened, especially when it comes to adverse effects of this vaccine), Aguirre said during the press conference.

Source: Philippine News Agency