NEW DELHI: The Centre has recorded India’s first Covid vaccine-related death since the start of the coronavirus vaccination campaign and classified seven other post-vaccination deaths as “indeterminate" indicating there is no evidence to connect them to the vaccines.
This death was reported following Covid jab in a 68-year-old male on March 21 and the reason was anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to the vaccine but it's not clear whether the person had received Covishield or Covaxin.
Top government authorities, however, stressed that the data on adverse effects following immunization released as part of a transparent reporting process should not be used to create any doubts about the Covid vaccines.
The finding related to the confirmed death has come out in a report on causality assessment results of 31 reported serious AEFI cases following Covid vaccination approved by National AEFI Committee carried out on February 5, March 9, and March 31, submitted to the Centre on June 4.
It said that 18 deaths were classified as having an inconsistent causal association to vaccination (coincidental - not linked to vaccination), 7 were classified as indeterminate, 3 cases were found to be vaccine product related, 1 was anxiety-related reaction and 2 cases were found to be unclassifiable.
In a press briefing on Covid status in the country on Tuesday, Lav Agrawal, joint secretary in the Union health ministry said after 23.5 crore vaccinations in India, 488 deaths in individuals, who had taken the jabs, were reported.
Talking about the confirmed vaccine-related death, VK Paul who heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration on Covid19 meanwhile said that it has to be seen through “a public health perspective”.
The vaccines that are licensed for use in India have fulfilled the criteria of safety, said Paul adding that the death confirmed should be seen in a wider context as “public health decisions are intended for large public benefit and to secure lives.”
“Risk or benefit is always balanced during these decisions. There should be no doubts about vaccines. This minuscule risk is almost negligible, almost non-existent,” said Paul.
“This information is being truthfully presented and this should not be used to create doubts. We need to take some risk for such a campaign... Unfortunately, if such reactions occur... But this should not be a reason for creating any doubts. We’re doing this for the overall public good,” he added.
To make a comparison, in the US more than 30 crore Covid vaccine doses were administered till June 7. During this time authorities there received 5,208 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a Covid vaccine.
In India, the government last month had said that there is a small but definitive risk of serious blood clot formation with Covishield—amounting to 0.61 cases per million in the Indian population—but asserted that its benefits far outweigh the risks.
No such side effect, however, was seen in people administered with Covaxin among the 498 serious adverse events reported till early April whose in-depth studies were completed by the national AEFI committee.
ALSO WATCH | Delta plus: New Covid variant identified, experts say no cause of concern for now