Lucknow: Mahipal Singh, a 46-year-old ward boy at one of the district hospitals in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad died a day after receiving shots of Covishield on the first day of the vaccination drive. However, the Uttar Pradesh government claimed the death was due to "cardiogenic shock/septicemic shock" due to “cardio-pulmonary disease”, attributing it to the autopsy report. However, the family of the deceased claimed he was not suffering from any disease and blamed the vaccination for his death
Singh reportedly complained of breathlessness and uneasiness in the chest after taking the vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India.
“Mahipal Singh, a ward boy in the district hospital Moradabad was given the Covishield vaccine on January 16 at 12 p.m. A day after, on January 17, he complained of chest pain and breathlessness during the day and by the time he was taken to the hospital for treatment he was declared dead," M C Garg, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Moradabad, told the media. He said Singh had worked the night shift after the vaccination, adding “we don’t think the death was due to any side effect of the vaccine. They are trying to verify the exact reason of his death.”
On January 17, the UP government released a report based on the autopsy and said that Mahipal Singh died of cardiogenic and septicaemic shock due to a cardiopulmonary disease.
A panel of three doctors had found that Mahipal’s heart weighed 500gm against the normal range of 200gm as the chambers and aorta of the organ were found with blood clots. They also found pus pockets in the lungs.
The lungs, heart and blood were secured for further examination, the CMO said in his report.
However, refuting the CMO’s claim, Mahipal Singh’s son, Vishal, told reporters that his father may have been unwell before the vaccination, but felt worse after receiving the shot and died due to its side effects.
"My father left the vaccination centre around 1.30 p.m, I brought him home. He was feeling breathless and was coughing. He had a bit of pneumonia, the usual cough and cold, but he started feeling worse after returning home (following the shot)," Vishal told the mediapersons, adding that his father never faced cardiac problems and was quite healthy, except the fever and cough.
Meanwhile, PTI reported the Moradabad district magistrate saying that the vaccination was fully safe and no side effects had been reported.
"The case of Mahipal is exceptional and a high-level medical inquiry will be ordered," he said.
WHAT HEALTH EXPERTS THINK
Some health experts, while terming the inoculation drive among health workers against COVID-19 as 'eventful', said it the vaccine has also evoked safety fears among health workers, as one of the vaccines, Covaxin, was still in stage three of the trial .
Sharad Gupta, a senior paediatrician and former president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) of Agra, told NewsClick: "The ultimate solution to eradicate corona is vaccination, as there is no specific medicine for COVID-19. The whole world is doing research on the vaccine but it will take the stipulated time. The permission for trial has been granted under an emergency clause. Everything of during the trial, including adverse effects, will be part of the research. Hence, it is too early to say whether it will be effective."
Take a jibe at the government for not taking health workers into confidence for the vaccine, Gupta said: “The Central government should think why they are not able to reach their target. There are almost three crore people working in the medical field, known as health workers, but so far only two lakh have got vaccinated. If the government cannot achieve the target on health workers, imagine about common people," Gupta said, pointing out that in every country, the head of the country (president/prime minister or health minister) is taking the vaccine first to generate confidence among health workers, “but in India it is reverse.”
Gupta said before vaccinating health workers, the IMA should have conducted seminars and awareness programmes to generate confidence.
A senior doctor of King George's Medical University on the condition of anonymity said: "I might take the COVID vaccine being a doctor but would not recommend it to my near and dear ones as trials are still underway. The most important point is that the benefit or risk ratio of a vaccine and its known adverse effects are not yet established," he told NewsClick.
Dr Kashif, president of the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of the medical college in Aligarh Muslim University, told NewsClick clinical trials of the vaccine were going on for the last one month and there had been no adverse effect so far in Aligarh.
"If the government is running the scheme on a large scale, then we must not be scared of it, but I would not recommend it to my close contacts till the trials are over," he said, pointing out that the RDA of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Delhi, had rejected Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin (which is still under trial) and had requested the medical superintendent to vaccinate them with Oxford’s Covishield.
Echoing similar sentiments, a nurse at a government medical college hospital in Lucknow, whose name registered for the COVID vaccine by the authorities, refused to take the shot. "I was tested positive for coronavirus in last week of June and since then I have become weak physically. I don't want to get vaccinated as its side effects can have serious consequences. I will not take shots at any cost," she told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, in a press release on Saturday, the UP government said it had vaccinated 22,643 people on day one of the vaccination drive (January 16). The next big day of the vaccination drive in Uttar Pradesh is Friday, January 22.
According to the Health Ministry data, the highest number of vaccines were administered in UP at 22,643 followed by Andhra Pradesh at 18412, Maharashtra at 18328, Bihar at 18169, Odisha at 13746, Karnataka at 13594, Gujarat at 10787, Rajasthan at 9279, West Bengal at 9730, Madhya Pradesh at 9219, Kerala at 8062.