Dengvaxia: Philippines pathology group vows help to end vaccine ‘hysteria’

We continue to monitor developments associated with Dengvaxia, recognizing the continuing and troubling political overlay to the issues in the Philippines such as reported in the Business Mirror article below. We did not identify any new press releases or statements on the Sanofi website.

Pathology group vows help to end vaccine ‘hysteria’
Business Mirror [Philippines] February 15, 2018
ANOTHER group of Filipino doctors have stepped forward to fight what they described as the scare and hysteria stirred by the Dengvaxia controversy, saying there is no medical evidence to show that the anti-dengue vaccine caused the death of some 14 Filipino children.

The Dengvaxia scare, the group said, has also jeopardized the national immunization program, and has threatened to trigger epidemics in the country.

In a news statement, the Philippine Society of Pathologists (PSP), led by its president, Dr. Bernadette R. Espiritu, called for prudence in the dissemination of information about Dengvaxia.

To recall, the expert panel from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) found that none of the 14 children whose deaths they examined could be directly attributable to Dengvaxia.

Such fact is in stark contrast with the supposed findings of the Public Attorney’s Office’s (PAO) forensics team that linked Dengvaxia to the deaths.

“Paramount here is the welfare of our children. This is not a battle of who is the best specialty group,”  Esipiritu said.

The group further said it is committed to support the Philippine Medical Association and the Department of Health in their efforts to reach out to the Dengvaxia vaccine-recipient children and their families, and to help alleviate their plight as a result of the Dengvaxia scare.

“The PSP is always ready, able and willing to serve the Dengvaxia vaccine-recipient children and their families,” the group said.

The group noted that the children who received Dengvaxia vaccination, their families and friends, are now engulfed by the undue scare that death is almost an inevitable consequence of such vaccination.

The scare has been generated by the much-publicized autopsy findings from the supposed forensic consultant of the PAO, unduly and hastily linking Dengvaxia to the death of some 14 children.

“To these helpless Filipino countrymen, their lives have practically come to a halt until they find certain solution or assurance that their Dengvaxia-vaccinated children will not suffer the same fate as those who were autopsied by those who claim to be a forensics expert,” PSP said.

A member of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the PSP is the recognized professional medical association that is duly mandated to train and certify physicians in the field of pathology as a medical specialty.

PSP members have undergone residency training in duly accredited hospitals and who successfully hurdled the examinations to qualify as diplomate or fellow  pathologist in either anatomic pathology or clinical pathology, or both.

According to PSP, some of its pathologists further obtain trainings and qualifications in different pathology subspecialties, which include forensic pathology that is now at the core of the dengue vaccine scare.

A forensic pathologist is a medical graduate and licensed physician  who completed the prescribed residency training in anatomic or anatomic and clinical pathology and passed the diplomate board examinations for anatomic or both anatomic and clinical pathology; and successfully completed the prescribed training in forensic  pathology.

At present, the PSP recognizes only two Filipino physicians who have successfully hurdled the stringent trainings and are qualified in the medical subspecialty of forensic pathology and these exclude Dr. Edwin Erfe of PAO.

The group does not discount the capabilities of other physicians conducting autopsies without being trained, qualified and certified as diplomate or  fellow in anatomic or in  anatomic and clinical pathology.

However, it said, the medical profession as a field of science  adheres to certain standards and best practices, which are validated and ensured by medical societies of the PMA in their respective fields of medical specialization.

According to PSP, pathologists are trained to conscientiously handle and process tissue samples as specimens, starting with gross examinations thereof that have to be subsequently correlated with microscopic examinations of specimen slides.

PSP underscored that the most critical in the process is the training of pathologists to adequately sample and properly handle tissues/specimen for histopathologic examination. Any misstep in this process is prone to yield incorrect or misleading diagnosis, which is a mortal mistake especially in diagnosis of a patient, much less in determining the true cause of death.

Erfe, the PAO forensic consultant (and not a pathologist), who, the group said, made sweeping statements linking Dengvaxia to the death of Filipino children, came under fire from medical experts all over the country for allegedly triggering the scare on vaccines.