MANILA, Philippines – Dr. Romeo Quijano, a pharmacologist, insisted in a House hearing on Tuesday that the mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 caused the increase in the death rate in 2021, leading to excess deaths .
However, former and current Department of Health (DOH) officials who participated in the hearing countered that the excess deaths were due more to a lack of medical attention for other illnesses because health professionals were more focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
Quijano is a member of the Physicians and Concerned Citizens of the Philippines (CDC.PH). In the past, he was among those whom the DOH accused of spreading false information about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines, especially in the face of the 2021 Delta variant.
On the government side was Dr. Edsel Salvana, former member of the DOH technical advisory group, who gave a presentation at the hearing, which was led by the Public Order and Safety Committee and the Human Rights Committee.
Excess deaths are defined by statisticians as the difference between the total number of deaths in a year and the average number of deaths in the country five years earlier. According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, more than 768,000 deaths were recorded in 2021, which is about 213,000 deaths above average.
The focus was on responding to COVID-19
In his presentation, Salvana, an infectious disease specialist, said that the health sector is more focused on responding to COVID-19. As a result, people with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney problems and other life-threatening illnesses were unable to get their routine checkups, leading to worsening health.
“We can see that between January 2020 and February 2020, our excess deaths in the Philippines were negative, precisely because lockdowns prevented not only COVID-19, but also other respiratory and communicable diseases,” Salvana said.
“It increased for two reasons: firstly, the Delta variant eventually arrived. When it arrived, mortality rates increased,” continued Salvana.
“The second is: we lock it. We have stopped all outpatient care and all elective surgeries. So, all these people after a year of not seeing a doctor because our healthcare system started to not do so well. And that’s why we’re starting to see more deaths from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke,” he added.
Salvana also cited the Commission on Population and Development’s findings that COVID-19 and its effects on the health system – such as a lack of focus on other diseases – have caused higher death rates.
It’s mass vaccination
But Quijano said the mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 is to blame for the excess deaths in 2021.
Quijano said that even scientists and other experts in other countries attributed the excess deaths to the vaccination program.
“Many made their cause and effect relationship in relation to the observation of excess deaths and the implementation of vaccinations. It’s not just in the Philippines, but I presented it in the last hearing based on the data I saw here in the Philippines and in other countries,” he said.
“In my analysis, there is no doubt that mass vaccination is the reason for the excess deaths. It cannot be explained by the increase in chronic diseases and then dying from it, because this should be seen in the normal variation in deaths. But this is really unprecedented,” he added.
Quijano said there is a pattern regarding vaccination and excess deaths.
“The study was able to meet the essential criteria for deciding that there is a cause and effect relationship between vaccination and the serious injuries and excess deaths observed. One is temporality, meaning it was clear that the sequence of events occurred after vaccination. We can see the serious injuries and excess deaths, even if the period varies. If someone had hypertension, they would not die immediately after vaccination,” he noted.
No enough evidence
Antipolo Second District Rep. Romeo Acop chided Quijano and his group for pushing their claim without providing sufficient evidence.
Acop asked the groups what they would have done differently with the COVID-19 response. He noted that the government could not give in to his suggestions because the country should be guided by science and protocols.
“I don’t know. Do you want your standard to be followed? How honorable [Rep. Anthony Rolando] Golez said he is right: we should have a rule or a rapporteur who decides. It’s not what you want that would be followed here […] Don’t impose the protocol you want on us,” Acop told Quijano and his CDC.PH colleagues.
“Mr. President, I am deeply interested in this because I lost my wife, who is also a doctor. In fact, I should be questioning whether there are flaws in the vaccine, because I was affected by it. Right? Secondly, I was trained as an investigator. I I just don’t believe everything you say, that’s why I ask questions. Now if you can’t answer the questions, then why are we here?” Acop, a former police officer, said.
Scientists maintain that the immunity achieved by the Philippines — as evidenced by low COVID-19 infection rates — can be attributed to widespread vaccination coverage, especially in large cities and towns.
In the first few months of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s term, COVID-19 alert levels were gradually lowered as the country moved toward a post-pandemic scenario.
However, some groups still insist that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous, despite government and expert data showing that the deaths of vaccine recipients were coincidental.