Death by Dengvaxia?


With the issue of Dengvaxia still running hot in the minds of so many people, the news reports stating that a 10-year old Grade 5 pupil died because of underlying causes caused by the injection of the vaccine this September 2017 would definitely put it back in the spotlight – and not in a very good light.

Anjielica Pestilos was injected the Dengvaxia vaccine early in September as part of the government’s thrust to prevent the spread of the illness among its citizens. While she is in Grade 5, whereas the vaccine was supposed to be given to Grade 4 pupils, she was a different case since she fell into the age category for which the vaccine was intended for.

According to Anjielica’s father, his daughter was energetic before she was given the vaccine. Afterwards, she displayed a general malaise which progressed into conditions that mirrored that of a severe dengue case – with rashes sprouting all over her body as well as a distended stomach – an effect of kidney failure due to lupus nephritis one of the aggravating conditions which led to her death. Anjielica was confined in the hospital for three weeks before succumbing to the conditions that led to her demise.

Pestilos’s official death certificate lists intractable metabolic acidosis as the primary cause of death which technically means her blood became acidic which led to severe organ malfunctions and subsequent failure. The certificate also cited systemic lupus erythematosus as the antecedent cause of death which led to the child suffering systemic lupus erythematosus nephritis – or severe kidney organ failure.

According to Doctor Tony Leachon, an independent health advocate and one of the staunchest critics of the Dengvaxia vaccine, the child may have had an underlying unknown disease which was triggered by the vaccine upon entry to her bloodstream culminating in the lupus nephritis which manifested weeks before her death.

Pestilos’s parents have already coordinated with Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Rueda Acosta to see that justice would prevail for their child and that those responsible for her death would be given their day in court. For her part, Acosta promised that her office would be extending their efforts to ensure that Pestilos’s death would be given the requisite attention.

Furthermore, PAO forensic expert Dr. Erwin Efre noted that while severe dengue may not have been identified and written down on the death certificate as a cause of death, he believes that based on the clinical abstract which cited extreme low levels of platelet count as well as white blood cell count, bleeding and edema – all hallmarks of sever dengue cases, that it certainly played a role in the child’s death.

However, Department of Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle stated in no uncertain terms that the Dengvaxia vaccine had no effect on Pestilos’s death. He further stated that there are no reports which backed up that the vaccine triggers lupus or lupus-like reactions among the recipients of the vaccine.

Erfe also noted that mass vaccination without any consultation with medical personnel may have caused such effects on the recipients. With most of the recipients of the mass vaccination project from the public schools and have limited access to health history assessment of medical practitioners, this may be the case.

Relative to this, another distraught father from Bataan will also pursue legal action after his daughter also died after receiving the Dengvaxia vaccine in the mass vaccination program. Nelson de Guzman sought the help of PAO after his daughter also died recently after receiving the vaccine in April.

Christine Mae de Guzman’s death is being blamed on disseminated intravascular coagulopathy with severe dengue as an antecedent cause of death. According to de Guzman’s father, Christine had to have blood transfusion but her body rejected the blood being put inside her.

Sanofi Pasteur has issued a statement expressing remorse over the death of the children stating that their vision id to have a world where preventable diseases would be eliminated. Their statement also said that there is so far no evidence linking their vaccine to the death of recipients pointing out that it has been clinically tested among 40,000 individuals over 15 countries.

Violence Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) spokesperson Dante Jimenez also called for the DOH to stop conducting the vaccination program using the Dengvaxia vaccine to prevent further deaths from happening.

The DOH for its part still wants to reassure the people with regards to the various programs it is implementing that is seen to bring health to the constituency of the current administration. With Leachon calling the Dengvaxia procurement as one of the greatest scams in DOH history, Valle begged to disagree stating that unfounded statements without scientific backing from the World Health Organization could undermine their efforts.

With the issue of the Dengvaxia vaccine still far from over, the Filipino people are in a state of flux over it as they want to believe that the administration, through its various agencies still have their best interests at heart.