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Thursday December 02, 2021

Corona vaccination: Only 6,000 people experienced side effects in Pakistan

Among 3.5 million fully vaccinated and 14.7m partially vaccinated people across the country, only over 6,000 people faced adverse effects

July 13, 2021
File photo
File photo

ISLAMABAD: Just over 6,000 people reported to have experienced side effects of corona vaccination in the country.

Among 3.5 million fully vaccinated and 14.7m partially vaccinated people across the country, only over 6,000 people faced adverse effects, The News has learnt from official data.

It is absolutely insane to think that the side effects of the vaccine could take your life, or could do some sort of disorder in your body system, said Amir Ashraf, secretary health.

Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Asim Rauf said that vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce deaths and severe illnesses from COVID-19.

Advisor to PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told this correspondent that vaccines are available at all centres and around 4 lakh people are being vaccinated daily.

According to the latest COVID-19 weekly safety report of Australia and the government of United Kingdom- a copy of which is available with this correspondent- vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce severe illness and death from COVID infections. The research work also reflects that the deaths reported with suspicion due to COVID vaccines were very low.

Leaving unreported cases aside, the deaths from corona are about 2.3 per cent of the total reported cases in Pakistan. Whereas, the reported Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) from getting corona vaccination stands extremely minimal at 0.0003 per cent of both partial and fully vaccinated people across the country.

Scientists and experts of health believe that all vaccines and medicines have some side effects. These reactions are not associated with more serious illness but are rather likely to reflect an expected, normal immune response to the vaccines. Experts also say that most of the deaths occur due to the health history of the patient rather than due to COVID vaccines. The chances of fatality due to corona maybe one in thousands if not even lesser.

Since the first detection in February, 2020 in Karachi, the COVID-19 confirmed cases in Pakistan stand at 969,476. Out of these, 911,383 recovered, while 22,597 died.

With the arrival of the fourth wave being most deadly in nature according to experts, getting oneself vaccinated should be highly appreciated. It is sort of a public service, said Asim Rauf.

Health Secretary Amir Ashraf told The News the authorities might reach full capacity which is up to one million dozes per day to achieve the target of 70 million vaccinations by the end of this year. Elaborating about the safety of COVID vaccines, the official said that each of the vaccine administered in Pakistan is gone through a thorough research consisting four stages of trials to evaluate its effectiveness and efficiency which are also followed by every country around the world.

“Fifty per cent of the population of Pakistan does not want themselves to be vaccinated according to surveys and we need 70 percent of people to get vaccinated to ensure herd immunity across the country,” maintained Amin Ashraf saying, “We must be fearful of this new variant ‘Delta’ and people should rush to vaccination centers if they actually pay any heed to themselves”.

Amin Rauf explained to the correspondent that the effectiveness of each of the vaccine in Pakistan is the same as they had gone through intensive Interntional standard research system. He also objected to the fashion statements of people preferring British/ American vaccines to be more advance or effective than Chinese or otherwise.

According to the data available with The News, following COVID-19 vaccines were given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by DRAP, namely: SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (SinoPharm) of Beijing Institute of Biological Products; Convidecia of CanSino Biologics; CoronaVac of Sinovac Lifesciences; Covishield of Serum Institute of India, Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech) of Pfizer; and Gam-COVID-Vaccine (Sputnik). Vaxzevria of Astra Zeneca has been given a special NOC of donation for EPI. The vaccination drive was initiated in February, 2021 with the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (SinoPharm), donated by the Chinese government. The vaccination is being carried out by Federal Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in more than 1500 adult vaccination counters across the country.

The data shows that COVID-19 vaccines were given EUA due to the fact that the benefit of these vaccines outweighs the risk associated with having COVID-19. In order to continuously monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in public, a need was felt to capture the data of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) of COVID-19 vaccines. The purpose of capturing the AEFI data with COVID-19 vaccines was to monitor the safety, built public trust in the COVID-19 vaccination and detect risk as early as possible.

The total adverse events stood over six thousand in total up till now across Pakistan. Out of the total people who reported adverse events following immunization (AEFI), 5540 were among the ones who got SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (Sino Pharm), 201 from Cansino, 153 from Extra Zenica and 780 from Sinovac.

The research by DRAP further shows that out of the all reported AEFI, the overwhelming majority are vaccination site reactions such as headache, fever and slight fever. Likewise, AEFI reports of diarrhea, skin rash, nausea and vomiting are not in the overwhelming majority but are also not few. AEFI reports of local reaction, muscle pain, vaccination site pain and vertigo are very few compared to others.

These types of reactions reflect the normal immune response triggered by the body to the vaccines. They are typically seen with most types of vaccines and tend to resolve within few days after vaccination, briefed CEO DRAP.

A report published in a newspaper recently noted that in Pakistan, a similar attitude can be observed both among government figures and members of the public. Because COVID-19 cases and deaths have remained comparatively lower than in other countries, there is a misconception that the virus will not have the same devastating effects here as it has had in so many other countries. This misguided belief has no scientific basis.

Pakistan is lucky not to have plunged into an all-out disaster, but a variant such as Delta can take us there. In India, 55pc of deaths were caused by variants of concern.

If authorities do not enforce SOPs, ramp up vaccinations, and roll out mass testing, the present wave of infections could overwhelm the existing healthcare infrastructure.