Panel to examine death of Telangana healthcare worker who got COVID-19 vaccine

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A committee will look into the death of a 42-year-old healthcare worker, who was administered a COVID-19 vaccine, in Telangana’s Nirmal district. The deceased reportedly developed chest pain and was brought dead to Nirmal District Hospital at around 5.30 am on Wednesday, said health officials. The health worker was administered the Covishield vaccine on Tuesday in Kuntala Primary Healthcare Centre, Nirmal District.  However, the Director of Public Health (DPH) G Srinivasa Rao, through a press release said that preliminary findings revealed that the death is unrelated to the vaccination.

“Preliminary findings suggest that the death seems to be unrelated to vaccination. As per the guidelines postmortem will be conducted by a team of doctors. The district Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) committee is examining the matter and will submit its report to the state AEFI committee. The state AEFI committee will in turn furnish its report to the central AEFI committee for taking a view,” the DPH said.

As of Tuesday, a total of 69,625 beneficiaries across the state received the COVID-19 vaccine. Among the 51,997, who got vaccinated on Tuesday, 51 of them showed mild adverse reactions, in which three of them required hospitalization, authorities said. Telangana has not reported any case of severe adverse effects yet.

Meanwhile, the Union government has said that out of the 4.54 lakh people who received the COVID-19 shot on Tuesday, there were 0.18% adverse events reported and 0.002% hospitalisations. Niti Aayog member VK Paul has also said that concerns over adverse events are unfounded, stating that both COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

Scientists have said that side effects are natural to any vaccine. However, vaccine hesitancy has been witnessed in some states with several questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

The two vaccines that have been approved for emergency use are Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. There has been criticism from some scientists and experts over the rushed approvals, particularly in the case of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which is still carrying out phase 3 trials. SII had received the nod from the drug regulator for Covaxin, which is a version of the OxfordAstraZeneca vaccine, after submitting data based on phase 3 clinical trials in the UK and Brazil. However, the company had submitted only an interim analysis of the bridging study carried out in the country to understand the vaccine's impact on the Indian population. 

SII released a fact-sheet on Covishield, urging those who are severely allergic to any of the vaccine’s ingredients to avoid taking the shot. Those who also develop a severe allergic reaction after the first shot of Covishield have also been advised not to take the second dose. 

Bharat Biotech, which developed Covaxin, has cautioned authorities against administering the vaccine to those who have any history of allergies; fever; a bleeding disorder or are on a blood thinner; if they are immuno-compromised or are on a medicine that affects their immune system; if they are pregnant or breastfeeding; or if they have received another COVID-19 vaccine. The company has also asked people who have any other serious health-related issues, as determined by the Vaccinator/Officer supervising vaccination, to avoid getting vaccinated with Covaxin.