Pathologist refutes PAO's claims linking Dengvaxia to children's deaths

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — A trained pathologist on Tuesday said there's no factual basis for the Public Attorney's Office's claim that some children died after receiving the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Doctor Raymundo Lao told lawmakers at the joint House committee hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy that the vaccine cannot be blamed for the children's deaths since they had "very serious diseases" even before they were vaccinated.

Lao based his findings on the analysis of the children's medical records and examination of their organs.

He added the forensics team from PAO that conducted the autopsies on the Dengvaxia recipients didn't have proper training  because they left out certain elements in their report.

"In all of these cases, we have seen that these patients had pre-existing diseases, very serious diseases that caused the patients' deaths. There are jumps to conclusion that are not logical and do not have a basis in fact. Their conclusions are these are Dengvaxia-related when the findings are clearly the result of another disease process," Lao said.

The pathologist called PAO reckless for linking Dengvaxia to the children's deaths without scientific basis since their statements have caused parents to be wary about vaccinating their children. In April, there were pockets of outbreaks in Metro Manila and Mindanao after fears of possible negative side effects brought by vaccines.

"We have now generated hysteria among the public and that a lot of parents are now refusing to have their children vaccinated — routine vaccinations — that are deemed effective," he added.

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin had asked the Department of Justice to include Lao's testimony in its preliminary investigation about the Dengvaxia controversy, but her request was denied.

In December 2017, the government halted its nationwide dengue vaccination program that began in 2016, after 837,000 children were immunized. Sanofi's earlier study showed that those with no previous infection and got vaccinated with Dengvaxia could contract more severe dengue.