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VACC mulls class suit vs. those involved in dengue vaccine mess

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The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is considering filing a class suit against those who were involved on the controversial P3.5-billion dengue vaccination program of the Department of Health (DOH).

"People have to be responsible for this disaster," said Ferdinand Topacio, VACC's legal counsel, according to a Balitanghali report by Bam Alegre on Tuesday.

The group, on Saturday, said it would ask the Department of Justice to order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the issue on the dengue vaccine.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Monday tasked the NBI to probe the mess and to file charges against those involved.

Last week, the DOH stopped the use of Dengvaxia after the French producer of the vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur, said it must be used strictly on limited basis due to recent evidence that the vaccine may aggravate the disease in people who have not been afflicted previously by dengue.

According to the DOH, more than 733,000 public school children aged nine years old and above in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon received three doses of the world's first dengue vaccine. The target for the program was one million children.

The project was started during the term of former Health chief Janette Garin in April 2016.

A public health expert, in the same report, clarified that vaccines should be approved under the government's health programs.

"Humingi ang Department of Health ng exceptional approval. Pumayag silang gamitin ito pero gagamitin sa maliit na lugar at phased implementation," said Dr. Susan Pineda Mercado.

"Dapat ang ginawa ie-scale down muna, hindi one million kids, kundi let's say 100,000 people na kontrolado mo," added Dr. Tony Leachon.

Earlier this day, the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines ordered the suspension of the sale, distribution and marketing of the dengue vaccine and the withdrawal of the product in the market.

The Palace called on the public not to panic over the dengue mess, noting that if the recipients of the vaccine will develop dengue after around three years, it will not be a deadly type. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA News

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