PAO conducts autopsy on suspected Dengvaxia victim in Camalig, Albay

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- A team of forensic experts under the supervision of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) exhumed the body of Arjay Llantero on Friday (June 29) morning at Camalig cemetery and conducted a post-mortem autopsy to determine whether the victim died from side effects of Dengvaxia innoculation. PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta said the latest findings showed that the 13-year-old student who was vaccinated November last year died June 24 this year. “The 65th victim of Dengvaxia vaccine had same signs and symptoms as other victims and suffered hemorrhage on the brain,” said Acosta. She said the samples were taken from the victim’s organs and will also be examined to confirm the diagnosis that the victim died of complications from Dengvaxia vaccine. “The findings will be out three to four weeks from now,” she added. Toy Reynoso of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) who accompanied Acosta said the Department of Health should now stop using Dengvaxia vaccine in its anti-dengue hemorrhagic fever drive. “Those who had been vaccinated must be given immediate health intervention because we are dealing here with human lives,” said Reynoso. Reynoso has made an appeal to those who had been vaccinated by Dingvaxia to immediately go to the nearest hospital if they start not to feel well. He said only a few children were vaccinated at private clinics in Legazpi City due to the exorbitant cost of the vaccine at P4,200 which the poor cannot afford. The victim was confined at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital. Dr. Catalino Arevalo, Bicol DOH regional director, said the victim also suffered from a lung ailment. Analyn Llantero personally asked the help of PAO to conduct a pos-mortem examination of her son. “He was a healthy and intelligent boy who wanted to become a policeman so that our family can rise from poverty,” said the distraught Analyn in the dialect. “I wish President Duterte can help us give justice to my dead son Arjay,” she added. She thanked all those who helped her family cope with the tragedy. President Duterte had earlier instructed the Department of Health (DOH) to look for three forensic experts from Asian countries that have implemented Dengvaxia vaccination. And the health department said three experts have already signed in to join the probe. The health department said only the Philippines used Dengvaxia in a mass vaccination program in Asia. Dengvaxia was used in private practice in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Brazil also used Dengvaxia for public vaccination, but it was on a much more limited coverage. In the Philippines, Dengvaxia was administered to at least 830,000 Grade 4 students in public schools, aside from those in private health facilities and among members of the Philippine National Police. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur is not yet off the hook as the Office of the Solicitor General remains in the process of building up a case against the company. He said the output of the foreign expert panel will further strengthen their case against Sanofi. Duque also said that the DOH remains firm in its stand that Sanofi should return the P2B that the government paid for the Dengvaxia vaccines. The health chief was considering to sue Sanofi for violating its contract with the DOH and the Civil Code for selling “defective” products to the DOH.