The expert panel on dengue vaccine-related deaths will commence analysis of the circumstances surrounding the death of 14 children allegedly after receiving Dengvaxia. The group is composed of specialists from the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

“We have submitted 14 [death] cases with complete case records to the expert panel of PGH for review,” announced Department of Health (DOH) undersecretary Enrique Domingo at a forum.

The children involved in the 14 cases all received Dengvaxia starting from 2016. They were aged 9 to 11 and came from areas in Central Luzon, Southern Luzon and Metro Manila, where government's dengue mass vaccination programme was implemented.

Dr Domingo said the panel of medical experts, headed by Dr Juliet Aguilar of the Department of Pediatrics, have been tasked to determine the causes of death, and more importantly, if these were related to vaccine administration.

Four of the children had ‘dengue’ listed as the cause of death. Others were said to have died of leukemia, lupus and heart ailments.

The Health official added that some of the children experienced illness between two weeks to a month after vaccination. They were reported with different symptoms and diagnosis when admitted.

The panel is expected to come up with a "very objective appreciation of the cases," Dr Domingo told newsmen, and the DOH is expects results in one to two weeks time.

Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III gave assurance that the members of the review panel do not have intellectual or financial ties with the maker of the vaccine.

“The UP-PGH, as the national university hospital, is the most credible third party institution to conduct this review for the DOH as it has the clinical and research expertise as well as mandate to provide assistance on matters of important health concern,” the Secretary said.

The expert panel is composed of paediatric infectious disease experts, forensic pathologists, and other specialists.

Secretary Duque is also set to visit schools whose students were given the vaccine, estimated at 830,000.

He is set to visit schools in Marikina City and other areas in the National Capital Region, as well as Regions 4-A and 3, and Cebu. MIMS