India confirms first death due to COVID-19 vaccination: Check what's in the report!

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country, India has confirmed its first death due to the vaccination. A panel formed by the Union government to study the side effects of COVID-19 vaccine doses has confirmed the first death due to anaphylaxis after the vaccination. 

The report from the panel has drawn national attention as it has come when the country has administered over 25 crore vaccine doses and has come a week ahead of the rollout of the Center's new vaccination policy.

According to a report submitted by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) Committee on Tuesday, a 68-year-old man had died due to a severe allergic reaction immediately after vaccination on March 8. This is the first death linked to the COVID-19 vaccination in India. The panel has submitted its report after assessing 31 AEFI cases. Of these, five cases were reported on February 5, eight on March 9, and 18 on March 31. 

Speaking to PTI, Dr NK Arora, Chairperson of the National AEFI Committee, said, "It is the first death linked to COVID-19 vaccination due to anaphylaxis. It re-emphasizes 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." 

The panel said mere reporting of deaths and hospitalizations as serious adverse events does not imply that they were caused due to vaccines. The report had stated that as per the data in the first week of April, the reporting rate is 2.7 deaths per million vaccine doses administered and 4.8 hospitalizations per million vaccine doses administered. 

The report has pointed out that properly conducted investigations and causality assessments can only help in ascertaining if there is any causal relationship exists between the event and the vaccine. Of those 31 causally assessed cases, 18 were classified as having an inconsistent causal association to vaccination - not linked to vaccination, 7 were classified as indeterminate, 3 cases were found to be vaccine product related, two cases were found to be unclassifiable, and one case was an anxiety-related reaction. 

By citing that the vaccine product-related reactions are expected reactions that can be attributed to vaccination based on current scientific evidence, the report has noted that the benefits of vaccination are overwhelmingly greater than the small risk of harm and as a measure of utmost precaution, all emerging signals of harm are being constantly tracked and reviewed periodically.