PAO to file 3 more criminal charges vs. health officials over Dengvaxia controversy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 30) — The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) is expected to file three more criminal complaints against former and incumbent public health officials over the controversial Dengvaxia mess.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday resumed its preliminary investigation on the vaccine controversy, where it was revealed that the PAO has added three new Dengvaxia-related death cases to the list. 

The families of three more children— identified as Cristine Mae De Guzman, Erico Liabres, and Clarissa Alcantara— sought the help of the Justice Department in filing criminal charges versus former Health secretary Janette Garin and other former and incumbent health officials.

This brings PAO's total number of complaints to 15.

Officials from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and healthcare provider Zuellig Pharma will also be slapped with the same raps.

The respective families, through the PAO, claimed the minors died after receiving Dengvaxia.

PAO Chief Persida Acosta said the minors appeared to be healthy prior to the vaccination.

"(There was) no history of bleeding bago mabakunahan pero nung mabakunahan, common signs and symptoms headache, pamumutla, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea," Acosta said.

[Translation: No history of bleeding before they were vaccinated. But once they were, the common signs and symptoms (were) headache, paleness, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea.]

Acosta added more complaints are expected to be filed against those responsible for the Dengvaxia mess.

RELATED: Senate draft committee report: Aquino, Garin, Abad 'criminally liable' for Dengvaxia mess

Meanwhile, three Sanofi officials asked for more time to file their counter-affidavits. The DOJ panel gave them 15 days to comply.

A study earlier this year by the Philippine General Hospital's Dengue Investigative Task Force revealed that two out of 14 deaths being linked to Dengvaxia may have been caused by the vaccine's failure, while some of the other cases were unrelated to the vaccine.

Out of the 14 deaths, experts said three died of dengue shock syndrome, including the two who may have died due to Dengvaxia failure.

Three of the cases were not related to Dengvaxia, two were inconclusive due to lack of information, and six were caused by other diseases and died within 30 days after receiving the vaccine. They did not have dengue prior to the immunization.

In December 2017, the government halted its nationwide dengue vaccination program that began in 2016, after 837,000 children were immunized. Sanofi's earlier study showed that those with no previous infection and got vaccinated, could contract more severe dengue.

CNN Philippines correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.