Telangana COVID-19 vaccine recipient dies; govt says no link to immunisation

All three deaths following immunisation in India attributed to heart attack with no disease history

By Banjot Kaur
Published: Wednesday 20 January 2021

Photo: @Subhash25018781 / Twitter
 A man who received a vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) died in Telangana January 20, the third such death since vaccination started across India. Authorities have said the death was not related to vaccination.

The 42-year-old man, who died in Telangana’s Nirmal district, was an ambulance driver posted at Kuntala primary health centre. The previous two deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad and Karnataka’s Ballari districts. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had said these two deaths were also not related to vaccination.

Cherupally Dhanraj, the Nirmal district health officer, told Down To Earth the beneficiary had been administered the Covishield vaccine developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

The officer said the ambulance driver was vaccinated at 11.30 am January 19 and was observed for two hours. He didn’t develop any complications and resumed duty. He left for his home at 5pm. At 2.30 am, he reported chest pain and was rushed to the district hospital. However, he was declared brought dead, Cherupally said, recounting the events. 

“These are clear symptoms of myocardial infarction (MI) and the death is not related to vaccination,” he said. A heart attack in medical parlance is called myocardial infarction. The driver did not have any history of this disease before. 

In response to a query on what the post-mortem said, Cherupally told DTE that a post-mortem had not been conducted yet. “But the signs are clearly that of MI.” 

The driver was the only earning member of his family. Cherupally said all necessary protocols regarding adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) would be followed. A total of 2,191 people had been vaccinated at Nirmal district so far, Cherupally noted, adding that none of them had reported any adverse event. 

Similar chain of events in other two deaths

The Telangana case bears an uncanny similarity to the ones in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. 

The Karnataka health department also attributed the death of a 43-yr-old employee of the state health department following COVID-19 vaccination to a “massive heart attack” after reporting chest pain.

The statement put by the Karnataka department January 19 said the employee was vaccinated at 1 pm January 16. He developed chest pain January 20 at 9.30am and collapsed. He was admitted to a hospital where he died at 11.15 am.

“The highest level of treatment was provided but he couldn’t be saved,” a Karnataka health department statement said. 

The Ballari district level team of AEFI concluded the death was due to “cardio respiratory arrest secondary to acute anterior septal wall myocardial infarction”. The statement does not refer to any post-mortem report. This beneficiary was also given the Covishield vaccine. 

The Moradabad health authorities in Uttar Pradesh said the death of a 52-year-old ward boy in the district happened due to “heart attack and cardiopulmonary disease”,  quoting the post-mortem report. 

The authorities claimed the death had nothing to do with vaccination, a claim the ward boy’s his son has refuted. The ward boy died January 17, a day after he was administered Covishield.

“My father had a cold. But he had no history of heart problems or any other serious disease,” his son had said. 

The district AEFI committee at Moradabad also concluded the death was not linked to vaccination. 

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