New Delhi: A government panel which is studying COVID-19 vaccine side effects has confirmed the first death due to anaphylaxis following vaccination. A causality assessment of 31 reported Serious Adverse Events following COVID-19 vaccination was carried out by the panel. According to a report submitted by the National AEFI Committee, a 68-year-old man died due to anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) after being vaccinated on March 8, 2021.
"It is the first death linked to COVID-19 vaccination due to anaphylaxis. It re-emphasises the need to wait for 30 minutes at the inoculation centre after receiving the jab. Most of the anaphylactic reactions occur during this period and prompt treatment prevents deaths," Dr NK Arora, chairperson, National AEFI committee, told PTI. The Committee examined five such cases that took place on February 5, eight cases on March 9 and 18 cases on March 31.
As per data in the first week of April, the reporting rate is 2.7 deaths per million vaccine doses administered and 4.8 hospitalisations per million vaccine doses administered, the report stated. The panel said mere reporting of deaths and hospitalisations as serious adverse events does not automatically imply that the events were caused due to vaccines.
Only properly conducted investigations and causality assessments can help in understanding if any causal relationship exists between the event and the vaccine, the report said. In the two other cases of anaphylaxis, the persons were given vaccines on January 19 and 16 and both were hospitalised and have since recovered.
Bridging the digital divide
Due to the simmering debate about the digital divide and the inability to book vaccine slots online, the government has now opened vaccinations without prior booking. Especially so in tribal areas, where people have no access to mobile phones and the internet; now, they can walk into their nearest centre and get vaccinated. Earlier, this facility was available to citizens above the age of 45, and now it is accessible for 18+ as well. The health ministry also said that the per million vaccination data is far better in rural and tribal areas than that in urban, which is a good sign, keeping in mind the digital divide.