New Delhi: The health ministry on Tuesday termed as “incomplete” and of “limited understanding” media reports which stated that 488 deaths between January 16 and June 7 following vaccination were linked to post-Covid complications, and highlighted that the vaccination coverage during this period was 23.5 crore.
The number of deaths reported following COVID-19 vaccination in the country is only 0.0002 per cent of the 23.5 crore doses administered, and this is within the expected death rates in a population, it said.
In a population, deaths occur at a certain rate. The crude death rate in 2017, according to SRS data, was 6.3 per 1,000 persons annually, the ministry said.
It is also important and pertinent to note that the mortality rate for those testing positive for COVID-19 is more than one per cent and vaccination can prevent these deaths, it said.
“Therefore, the risk of dying following vaccination is negligible as compared to the known risk of dying due to COVID-19,” the ministry stated.
The ministry also referred to some media reports suggesting an increase in the cases of severe adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) that have also resulted in “succumbing of patients” post vaccination.
According to the media reports, 488 deaths following vaccination are linked to post-Covid complications between January 16 and June 7, when the total vaccination coverage was 23.5 crore.
“It is clarified that these reports are based on incomplete and limited understanding of the matter at hand. It may be noted that the term ‘succumbed’ insinuates causality i.e. the deaths were caused due to vaccination,” the ministry said.
AEFI is defined as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunisation and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of vaccine.
It can be any unfavourable or unintended sign, abnormal laboratory finding, symptom or disease.
Healthcare workers, doctors and vaccine recipients have been always encouraged by the government of India as well as state governments to report all deaths, hospitalisations and events resulting in disability as well as any minor and adverse events following immunisation at any point of time after vaccination, the ministry said.
Deaths, hospitalisations or events causing disability or concern following any vaccination are categorised as serious or severe cases and are to be investigated at the district level, it said.
Causality assessments help to understand whether the event was caused due to vaccine and these are conducted at the state and national levels.
Therefore, any death or hospitalisation following inoculation cannot be automatically assumed to be due to vaccination unless investigated by the AEFI committees at the district, state and national levels and attributed to vaccination, the ministry said.
There is a robust system of AEFI surveillance at every level from the district to the state. Once the investigation is completed, the reports are released on the website of the Union health ministry, following transparent sharing of Covid vaccination related information, it said.