India reports 26 thousand adverse events, 488 deaths during COVID vaccination drive

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, June 14, 2021, 11:59 PM IST
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A man wearing mask carries pushes a woman on a wheelchair during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Mumbai | AFP

India reported 26,000 cases of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) and 488 deaths linked to post-vaccination complications between January 16 and June 7, according to government data accessed by CNN-News18.

To take a holistic view, 23.5 crore doses were administered in this period. This means the AEFI cases — at 26,200 — accounted for just about 0.01% percent of the total doses administered.

In other words, over a period of 143 days, one out of every 10,000 people vaccinated against COVID-19 developed complications after receiving the jab. Two in every 10 lakh people vaccinated died.

According to the Union health ministry, AEFI cases are untoward medical occurrences that take place after immunisation. To be sure, they do not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of vaccines.

While 24,703 cases (or 94% of the total AEFI cases) were linked to Covishield, Covaxin accounted for 1,497. But this is to be seen in context of the shots administered overall. Twenty-one crore doses of Covishield were used between January 16 — the day COVID-19 vaccinations began in India — and June 7. This number for Covaxin stood way below at two-and-a-half crore.

AEFI cases are of three types. Common and minor AEFI cases include fever, pain and swelling at injection site or irritability. In the next level (severe), such cases do not lead to long-term problems but can be disabling. They include pain and swelling, which spread beyond the nearest joint, or even high-grade fever. Serious AEFI cases are conditions requiring hospitalisation or leading to death or disability.

In close to 95% (24,901) of India’s AEFI cases, the complication reported was minor; nearly 2% (412) AEFI cases were severe, while 3.39% (887) cases were serious; a total of 2,318 cases (8.85%) needed hospitalisation.

DEATHS: Close to 2% (488) of the total AEFI cases (26,200) resulted in deaths, according to data from government sources. A total of 301 men and 178 women were among the dead; the data did not mention the gender of the rest of the nine people.

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