• A health care worker in the Philippines died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot
  • The government refused to reveal the brand of the vaccine
  • The Philippines is now reporting about about 4,000 to 5,000 new cases daily

A Filipino health care worker who received a shot of COVID-19 vaccine at a local inoculation drive died Monday, according to the Philippine Department of Health.

In a joint statement with the country's Food and Drug Administration, the DOH said the health care worker tested positive for COVID-19 following the vaccination but didn't specify the dates or the brand of vaccine administered.

“In response, the regional and national AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunization) committees were activated to conduct a thorough investigation of the case,” the DOH said.

An investigation revealed the death “was caused by COVID-19 itself, not by the COVID-19 vaccine,” the agency added. It stressed COVID-19 vaccines, whatever the brand, do not cause infection or death.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious disease expert, noted that it is still possible to contract COVID-19 even after vaccination. This happens if the patient was infected prior to getting the shot or was exposed to the virus before the antibodies developed.

It is unclear if the health care worker who died was among the 21 reported recipients who experienced severe side effects after inoculation. The DOH released a report Friday that showed 20 recipients of China’s Sinovac vaccine and one person who received AstraZeneca’s vaccine suffered chest pains or breathing difficulties.

“We are studying the causality. According to the adverse effect monitoring committee, they think anxiety due to fear of side effects or needles may have caused this reaction,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing, as translated by CNN Philippines.

The health care worker’s death comes as Philippine health officials record about 4,000 to 5,000 new coronavirus cases daily. A model by independent research group OCTA projected that the COVID-19 infections in the country could reach up to 11,000 new infections daily by the end of March.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Wednesday told ANC 24/7 that the Philippine government may impose a wider lockdown, including enforcing strict curbs on international arrivals, to stop the spread of the virus.

“If nothing changes and cases continue to rise, then the possibility of a more widespread lockdown is strong," Duque said.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded 631,320 coronavirus cases and 12,848 deaths.

AstraZeneca vaccine
The AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured. AFP / Martin BUREAU