The truth is both official and ugly. After over a billion Indians took the Covid-19 jabs, the government admits to the vaccines having multiple side effects. The revelations were made by the government’s top two medical watchdogs ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) and CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation) while addressing an RTI filed by Pune businessman Prafful Sarda.
The Vaccines Under The Scanner
India has permitted AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India, Pune’s Covishield, and SII’s own Covaxin. Apart from vaccines from three Hyderabad-based companies; the government-run Bharat Biotech Ltd’s Covaxin, Dr. Reddy’s Lab imported Sputnik V, Biological E.Ltd’s CorBEvax, and later, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Ahmedabad’s ZyCov-D only for teenagers (12-17 year-olds) also got the nod.
In a specific query by Sarda on the side-effects of all these jabs, the ICMR’s PIO Dr. Leyanna Susan George and CDSCO’s PIO Sushanta Sarkar, have cited a plethora of ramifications arising out of all these vaccines comprising their FAQs.
The side-effects of Covishield
The vaccine which took the lion’s share of India’s Covid-19 vaccine market also takes the same share in the side effects. Its after-effects include; injection site tenderness or pain, multiple red spots or bruises beyond the injected site, persistent vomiting without reason, severe or persistent abdominal pains or headaches with or without vomiting, shortness of breath, chest pains, pain in limbs of any particular side or parts of the body, including cranial nerves, unprecedented seizures, pain in eyes, blurred vision or diplopia, change in mental status, encephalopathy or depressed levels of consciousness.
Unfortunately, none of the vaccines came with no or minimal side effects. Covovax side-effects are injection site pain/tenderness/induration, fatigue, malaise, headaches, fever, soreness of muscles, joint pains, nausea or vomiting, chills, body-ache or extreme pain in limbs, Asthenia (weakness or lack of energy), injection site pruritus (itching, rash, red skin, hives), enlarged lymph nodes, back pains, and rarely dizziness or drowsiness.
Covaxin, on the other hand, displays mild symptoms AEFIs like injection site pain/swelling, headaches, fatigue, fever, bodyache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, giddiness, tremors, sweating, cold and cough.
Sputnik V manifests with chills, fever, arthralgia, myalgia, asthenia, headaches, general discomfort, injection site pain/swelling/hyperaemia, nausea, dyspepsia, loss of appetite, or occasional enlarged regional lymph nodes. While CorBEvax shows effects like fever/pyrexia, headaches, fatigue, body pains, myalgia, nausea, or arthralgia, urticarial, chills, lethargy, besides injection site pain/erythema, swelling, rash, pruritis or irritation.
All those suffering side effects to date have only one question, why was the compulsion created in such haste? “The replies by ICMR-CDSCO are blatantly shocking. Though the government has declared that “vaccination is totally voluntary,” why was the compulsion created indirectly by barring people from traveling in buses, trains, flights, inter-state movements, going out to hotels, restaurants, multiplexes, malls etc. This trapped more and more panicked people into getting themselves injected without knowing the after-effects,” said Sarda sharply.
Echoing the sentiments of many, he further urged the government to release data on whether adequate publicity on all these possible side-effects was done through media, by hospitals, and vaccination centers, and if the health ministry initiated any public safety campaigns for the gullible masses, now that vaccine-related deaths are being reported in India and worldwide.
“All the global agencies have set the benchmark that only vaccine candidates that show an efficacy of at least 50-60 percent will be considered. Most of the vaccines have shown efficacy of 70-90 percent within the short period of two or three months of observation. More than 100 crore people have received at least a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the proportion of side effects is very low,” the government said in a reply.
After the initial mass vaccination, mostly free was completed, from August 2022, the government has permitted conditional market sales of Covishield and Covaxin but the others—Sputnik V and CorBEvax, remain specifically for restricted emergency use as per RTI.
Shocking Sudden Deaths In Alarming Numbers
One odd case, however unfortunate, remains just that, a one-off case. But the sudden and shocking vaccine-related deaths of people at public gatherings have become a cause of concern. Several such incidents pose some difficult questions and merit transparent answers.
As per data shared by CDC, it’s vaccinated that represents most Covid-19 deaths right now. In the fall of 2021, about 3 in 10 adults dying of Covid-19 were vaccinated or boosted. But by January 2022, about 4 in 10 deaths were boosted or vaccinated.
According to a presentation made to the National AEFI Committee during a meeting held on March 31, 2021, there were 617 severe and serious cases (including) deaths following immunisation (AEFI). As on March 29, a total of 180 deaths (29.2%) were reported following vaccinations across the country.
In November 2022, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) made a submission in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to a petition by the parents of two women—aged 19 and 20, who allegedly died due to the adverse effects of Covid-19 vaccine. It said that the Union government cannot be held liable to pay compensation for deaths caused by adverse reactions to Covid jabs. As per the affidavit, as of November 19, the country had recorded 92,114 adverse events following immunization, of which 2,782 cases were severe and serious. As per a report in the Scroll, 1148 people had died after suffering AEFIs.