Latest data showed that 19 out of 154 children who died after receiving at least one dose of Dengvaxia, had dengue despite the vaccination as reported by the Department of Health (DOH).
According to DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo, of the 19 individuals who had dengue, six were diagnosed clinically and 13 were confirmed to have the illness through laboratory tests.
“Of those deaths, 19 were definitely due to dengue…. Meaning they were vaccinated with Dengvaxia and somehow the vaccine failed or caused severe effects,” he said.
There’s still no solid evidence on whether or not the Dengvaxia vaccine itself directly caused the deaths, Domingo clarified.
He said the vaccine may only be “possibly related” and further studies over the next few years will be needed to establish it.
The latest data showed an increase in both the number of deaths and children who were confirmed to have dengue and died despite receiving the vaccine. Last May, 11 out of 87 kids died of dengue despite the vaccine.
Domingo said the other 135 deaths were from non-dengue cases — other illnesses that include heart disease, pneumonia, central nervous system infections, leukemia, or asthma, all of which occurred naturally.
The University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital Dengue Investigative Task Force (PGH-DITF), formed in January 2018 to review the deaths of children who received the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, said part of these 154 deaths are “the first 62 deaths.”
Only the first 62 deaths were reviewed so far as these were continuously sent to the PGH-DITF chronologically, Domingo said.
As Rappler reported, of the 62 deaths the task force investigated, one was “consistent with causal association to immunization,” which means patient’s death occurred within 30 days and thus may be possibly related to the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Eight deaths were considered “indeterminate,” meanwhile, since these had a “consistent temporal relationship with Dengvaxia,” though there was insufficient evidence to determine if this was actually related to the vaccine.
Six deaths also had some factors “consistent with causal association to immunization” but were likewise considered “indeterminate” for lack of evidence to establish a possible relationship to the vaccine.
Domingo said the 15 deaths occurred within 6 months of immunization, meaning there may still be a “temporal relationship” with the vaccine.
“For these 15, may possibility talaga na may relationship sa bakuna kasi yung time frame happened within 6 months and majority of them died because of dengue. (For these 15, there is a possibility it is related to the vaccine the time frame (of death) happened within 6 months and majority of them died because of dengue,)” he said.
Domingo also said that of the remaining deaths, 37 were “coincidental” — which means the patients got sick from other diseases and also happened to receive the vaccine. Eight deaths were “unclassifiable” as well since there was not enough information on the patient to make any sort of judgement on the death.
The remaining 2 deaths where patients had no available records for examination, as stated by Rappler.
When asked what DOH is planning to do about this, Domingo said heightened surveillance of children who received Dengvaxia is ongoing and will be done for the next five years.
They are also looking at some hospitals which can possibly become Dengvaxia specialty centers, where children who would be diagnosed with severe dengue and received Dengvaxia will be treated.