Following 13 deaths after coronavirus vaccination in the last two weeks, a group of doctors and public health researchers on Sunday asked the Union Health Ministry to urgently investigate these deaths and share the information in the public domain.
“Please place complete information on all deaths, severe and serious AEFIs (adverse events following immunisation) in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, and their investigation, in the public domain. This information should include the numbers, date of vaccination, details of the AEFI, place, investigation status and results,” they wrote in a letter to the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
After the vaccination began on January 16, post-vaccination deaths were reported in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Haryana, Odisha, Kerala and Gujarat. Most of the 13 deaths took place between a few hours and five days of the individuals taking the vaccines.
The ministry has categorically ruled out any causal links so far and all the deaths have been ascribed to cardiovascular problems or brain stroke.
The two latest deaths were reported from Telangana and Gujarat on Sunday. A 55-year-old health worker from the Kasipet Mandal of Mancherial district died 11 days after vaccination whereas a 30-year-old sanitation worker of Vadodara Municipal Corporation died two hours after getting the jab.
“The cause of death is clearly indicative of underlying morbidities and not due to Covid vaccination,” the Director of Public Health and Family Welfare in Telangana said in a statement. In a report Ranjan Aiyyar the superintendent of Sayaji Hospital that administered the shot said the death of the sanitation worker was not primarily due to the corona vaccine but a post-mortem is being done to know the exact reason. The recipient is known to have a heart problem.
“All the medical information on the cause of death should be in the public domain to increase public confidence. We are worried that without such transparency, people may lose trust in the vaccine,” said Amar Jesani, editor, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, Mumbai and one of the signatories to the letter.
A senior ICMR official, however, said that information based on the post-mortem report was shared for greater transparency whereas the complete AEFI investigation might take up to a month.