COVID-19 vaccine did not cause local health worker's death – DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — The vaccine has been ruled out as the cause of death of a health care worker who received a COVID-19 shot in the local inoculation drive, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

In a joint statement with the Food and Drug Administration, a regulatory agency under the department, the DOH disclosed that the vaccinated Filipino health worker died on Monday. The DOH said the frontliner tested positive for COVID-19 after getting inoculated but did not specify the dates, or which brand was used.

“In response, the regional and national AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunization) committees were activated to conduct a thorough investigation of the case,” the DOH said.

Investigation showed that the death “was caused by COVID-19 itself, not by the COVID-19 vaccine,” it added. The agency stressed that COVID-19 vaccines, whatever the brand, do not cause deaths or infections.

It’s not clear if the vaccinee who died was among the 21 recipients who experienced serious adverse side effects, such as chest pain or difficulty in breathing, as reported by the DOH on Friday.

Dr. Rontgene Solante, an infectious diseases expert, earlier explained that it is still possible to test positive for COVID-19 even after vaccination if the person was already infected prior to receiving the shot or was exposed to the virus before the antibodies kicked in.

Meanwhile, DOH and the FDA urged all medical frontliners to get vaccinated especially amid the surge in infections. This week, the country recorded around 4,000 to 5,000 new COVID-19 cases daily, and if the upward trend continues, the independent research group OCTA projects up to 11,000 new infections per day by the end of the month.

“Millions of people around the world have received this vaccine, and evidence continues to show that the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk of severe disease and death caused by COVID-19,” the DOH and FDA said.

The Philippines has so far received 1.125 million doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, which are donations from China and COVAX, respectively. Some 215,997 health care workers have received their first dose. The government expects more Sinovac and AstraZeneca doses to arrive this March or April, enough to kickstart general public vaccinations by early May.