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Ex-DOH head fires back at accusers

House of Representatives’ Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin on Saturday came out two guns blazing against her detractors over the Dengvaxia vaccine issue.

She said she would face the most recent charge filed by the Department of Justice against her and several others in connection with the use on almost one million people, most of them children, of the vaccine that was still on Phase 4 clinical testing at the time.

READ: Ex-DOH chief indicted anew over Dengvaxia

“I have yet to receive the 78-page resolution but this will be the nth case that has been filed against me and the other public health servants who sought to bring a life-saving vaccine in the country,” Garin said in a statement. 

She was the secretary of Health when the vaccine was used during the dying days of the Benigno Aquino III presidency.

“Haharapin ko ito ng buong tapang at walang takot dahil alam natin ang katotohanan (I will face this courageously and fearlessly because we know the truth),” Garin said.

“Sa unang batch pa lang out of 7 criminal cases for reckless imprudence filed against us, under the direction of PAO (Public Attorneys Office) Chief Persida Acosta, six have already been dismissed and one remains pending. The dismissals entail the cases’ lack of basis and substance (In the first batch of the seven criminal cases for reckless imprudence [resulting in homicide] cases filed against us under the direction of Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta, six have been dismissed and one remains pending).”

She added: “Science has proven over and over again that no deaths have been linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine. Almost the whole world is using it now and no case like ours has surfaced.”

Garin took a swipe at her detractors, saying: “Can you call it justice if we let our countrymen die of diseases that can be cured by medicines or prevented by vaccines? If so, who will be held liable for the dengue deaths when the vaccine was withdrawn?”

She again blamed the filing of another case on politics, saying the issue was being used to camouflage the more serious problems that the administration is facing at that time.

In this situation, “real justice should listen science and not politics,” she added in Tagalog.

On Friday, the DOJ indicted Garin and several other health officials for the death of children who were injected with Dengvaxia during the BS Aquino administration.

Garin, several DOH, Food and Drug Administration and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine were charged together with executives of vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. were charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

The DOJ also said there was “sufficient evidence” to file charges against the Sanofi Pasteur president and four others for alleged violation of the Consumer Act.

The indictments were the result of the second batch of complaints filed by the parents of eight children who died allegedly after being inoculated with Dengvaxia.

DOJ investigators noted the indictees’ “undue haste” in the procurement and use of the vaccine “despite the red flags known to them.”

They also found that the government bought and rolled out Dengvaxia for its mass immunization program even before clinical trials for the vaccine were completed.

It was learned that the vaccine was on Phase 4 of clinical trials or post-market monitoring. When drugs are on that phase of the clinical trials, they are not used in a widespread manner since the users are monitored for adverse reactions.

DOJ investigators accused Garin and her fellow health officials of being “careless in implementing the vaccination program.”

The investigators also faulted Garin and her co-accused for failing  “to fully inform the Dengvaxia recipients, and their parents/families, of the nature and risks of the vaccine.”

The vaccine was used on almost one million children just before the elections of 2016 but it was only in 2017 that the manufacturer issued an advisory that the vaccine tends to exacerbate the symptoms of dengue if the recipient has not been afflicted with dengue yet.

“They failed to obtain the informed consent of its recipients,” the investigators said.

In addition, the DOJ said the recipients of the vaccine did not undergo a physical examination or health assessment prior to inoculation and were not monitored afterward for any possible adverse reaction.

The accused face up to six years in prison for each count of the offense if convicted.

Topics: House of Representatives , Janette Garin , Dengvaxia vaccine , Department of Justice
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