KEY POINTS

  • The district Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) committee will examine the matter
  • The postmortem is still going on
  • India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines — Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute’s Covishield — for emergency use

Adding to the woes of India's health officials who have been trying hard to ensure their mass inoculation drive isn't derailed by prevailing COVID-19 vaccine skepticism, a 42-year-old health worker from the country's southern state of Telangana, who received the jab, died early Wednesday.

The worker was given Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine at the Kuntala health center in Nirmal district on Tuesday and a committee is looking into the death.

In a statement, the state health department said that the healthcare worker developed chest pain around 2.30 a.m. Wednesday and was brought dead to the district hospital around 5.30 a.m.

Director of Public Health G. Srinivasa Rao said that preliminary findings suggest the death was not related to the vaccine and a team of doctors will conduct the postmortem. "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,” he said in the statement.

Telangana has reported 2,92,128 positive cases of COVID-19 as of date. 69,625 beneficiaries across the state were inoculated till Tuesday, according to The News Minute.    

India approved two COVID-19 vaccines — Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute’s Covishield — for emergency use earlier this month. But concerns have been raised over the rushed authorization to Covaxin, the homegrown vaccine, because of the lack of efficacy data.

The Union government said that 7,868,42 healthcare workers had been vaccinated till Wednesday and no serious AEFI has been attributable to the vaccination to date. As of now, four deaths have been reported in the country, and three of them are not related to the vaccine, the government said. The postmortem is going on in the fourth case.

Dr. Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Manohar Agnani, gave details of the four deaths following vaccination. He said that in the first case, the postmortem confirmed cardio-pulmonary disease as the cause of death and it was unrelated to the vaccine administered.

Two deaths have been reported from the southwestern state of Karnataka. The postmortem reports suggested both the deaths were due to myocardial infarction, he added. The fourth case was reported from Telangana and the postmortem was still going on, Agani was quoted as saying by News-18.

Meanwhile, both Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India have released fact sheets on who should not take the vaccines.

Although drug makers around the world have repeatedly said speed will not compromise the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the reassurances seem to have failed to convince people to get the shots when they are available.

In the U.S., the death of a Florida doctor is still being investigated. The obstetrician and gynecologist developed the rare blood disorder thrombocytopenia after getting the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer said it was investigating the case, but did not believe at the time that there was any direct connection to the vaccine.

India has been holding holding nationwide drills to prepare for one of the world's biggest inoculation programmes, which is expected to kick off in the coming weeks India has been holding holding nationwide drills to prepare for one of the world's biggest inoculation programmes, which is expected to kick off in the coming weeks Photo: AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR