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Task force to probe vaccine issue proposed

Even as he called for a Senate inquiry into the controversial Dengvaxia, Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito yesterday proposed the creation of a task force that will probe the dengue vaccine issue.

The chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography also urged the Department of Health (DoH), which is one of the agencies that he wanted to be part of the task force, to also verify reports of deaths which are being connected by some to the said vaccine.
“What’s the real cause of the deaths? I am calling on the DoH to undertake surveillance of the kids injected with the vaccine and identify and monitor the condition of those who had not been infected prior to their vaccination,” Ejercito said.
“Ngayon, ano ang gagawin ng DoH doon sa mga batang nainiksyunan na ng Dengvaxia?” he asked.
In proposing the creation of the task force, Ejercito pressed the need for the conduct of a thorough, comprehensive and all angle investigation on the dengue vaccine issue.
“I am recommending that the task force should be composed of representatives from the Department of Health, World Health Organization, Philippine Medical Association and medical societies, academe and noted medical and health experts,” he said.
Ejercito noted that WHO officials will be arriving on December 12 and 13.
“I want to hear what they have to say about the issue before I conduct my investigation. I believe that the observation and analysis of the WHO officials plus the report and recommendation of the task force that I have proposed to be created will give me a wider grasp and understanding of the problem which will help me a lot in my inquiry,” he said.
The senator has initiated the filing of Resolution 557 directing the proper committee to conduct an inquiry into the dengue immunization program of the DoH vis-à-vis the Sanofi Pasteur’s new clinical finding on the vaccine Dengvaxia’s adverse effects to its recipients.
“I may still join the blue ribbon committee of Sen. Richard Gordon in the investigation on Monday if it’s really necessary because I believe that a lot of substantial information will come out in that hearing at kung hindi ko talaga siya makukumbinsi na hintayin muna ang mga WHO officials. But I still maintain that we need the findings and recommendation of the experts,” he said.
“I am puzzled and surprised why the Philippines approved and used the Dengvaxia despite the fact that up to this day, the European Medicines Agency, which is the equivalent to our Food and Drugs Administration has not yet approved it. I suggest the task force should find out the scientific merit of the vaccine,” Ejercito added.

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