A presentation made to the National AEFI (adverse events following immunisation) Committee at a meeting on March 31 said that there had been 617 severe and adverse events after people were given a COVID-19 vaccine, as on March 29. Out of the cases 180 persons died while the entire set of data is available only in 236 cases.
According to a report in The Hindu, a total of 492 serious AEFI cases were classified by the Health Ministry's AEFI Secretariat. Out of those the classification has been done in the case of 124 deaths, 305 serious events in which persons required to be hospitalised and in the 63 severe cases that did not need hospitalisation.
The classification reportedly showed that over 63 deaths (nearly 51%) happened due to conditions stemming from sudden and reduced blood flow to the heart – an attack – and that 11 deaths (about 12%) happened from strokes.
However, the report has flagged inconsistencies in the pattern of deaths from week to week after vaccination. Virologist Dr. Jacob John told the newspaper that the "deaths are not evenly distributed".
The data showed that in the first three days post-vaccination, there had been 93 deaths at the rate of 31 deaths per day. Between the next four to seven days there were 18 deaths (4.5 deaths a day) and that there were 11 deaths between the eighth and twenty-eighth day following being administered the vaccine.
Dr. John added that if the deaths were lot related to the vaccine, as the government has been claiming, "then deaths should be evenly distributed across weeks after vaccination. There are an extraordinary number of deaths in the first week but in the next two-four weeks there are only about four deaths per week," he was quoted saying.
Of the 124 categorised deaths, 54 have been from a reduced flow of blood to the heart. A report in The Times of India said they bore "striking similarities" with deaths recorded in Europe and the UK.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the European Medicines Agency said: "EMA is reminding healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within 2 weeks of vaccination. So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 years of age within 2 weeks of vaccination. Based on the currently available evidence, specific risk factors have not been confirmed."
A report in Down to Earth from a week ago had raised questions about this government report titled: 'Causality assessment results of 8 reported Serious Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) cases following COVID-19 vaccination approved by National AEFI Committee.'
The Immunisation Division under the health ministry had submitted its "causality assessment for 8 cases" which was completed on March 9. It concluded by saying: "Three of the eight causally assessed cases have been done found to have consistent causal association to vaccination, four cases have been found to have inconsistent causal association to vaccination (coincidental) & one case was found unclassifiable. None have been found to be due to the COVID-19 vaccine."
Experts have questioned the contradictions in the report. “The statements are clearly contradictory. The ministry should come out clear about which part of the statement is right and which one is wrong; Has vaccination led to the deaths of three patients or not?” Kunal Sarkar, a public health expert, reportedly asked.
The DTE report quoted a health ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, and said it was "clearly a faux pass."