Similar to what happened in the US and many other countries, South Korea is currently investigating the deaths of five people who died within days of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) is currently conducting epidemiological surveys with relevant local authorities in order to confirm any link with inoculation.
AstraZeneca said it was aware of the investigation led by KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyeong, but insists that the vaccine has been extensively studied in clinical trials with data confirming that it is generally safe.
The First Two Recorded Deaths
Two patients at long-term care hospitals in Gyeonggi Province died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. They are the first reported cases of deaths since the country began its nationwide vaccination program last week.
A 63-year-old man with cerebrovascular disease, developed severe symptoms, such as a high fever and pantalgia, four days after being vaccinated, Jeong said. When his condition worsened, he was rushed to a larger hospital but passed away while showing symptoms of blood poisoning and pneumonia, according to officials.
Another patient in his 50s with multiple pre-existing conditions (heart problems, diabetes and stroke) received his vaccine in the morning. That same day, he developed symptoms of heart failure and difficulty breathing in the afternoon but recovered after being put into emergency care. Unfortunately, the symptoms recurred the next morning, which caused the patient to die.
The KDCA said that out of the people who had received the coronavirus vaccines, 207 had adverse reactions, including three cases of severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis. But still urge people who are in good health to take the shot.
“We believe that people may feel anxious about the vaccination after hearing of such fatalities, but no deaths have been confirmed to have a direct link with vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer,” KDCA chief Jeong Eun-Kyeong said. “People should not avoid inoculations.”
Three More Deaths
On March 4, three more deaths were reported in connection with the AstraZeneca vaccine, raising the number of post-vaccination deaths in the country to five, officials said.
A 52-year-old patient at a long-term care hospital in Jeonju, died early Thursday morning, nearly two days after being vaccinated, according to North Jeolla Province officials. The patient had a cardio-cerebrovascular disease and had previously suffered a brain hemorrhage in June.
The second patient, aged 58, died at a long-term care hospital in nearby Buan also early Thursday, less than a day after receiving the vaccine, according to the officials. The patient’s pre-existing conditions included a myocardial infarction and diabetes.
“Neither of them showed adverse reactions to the vaccination,” a provincial health official said, noting that health authorities will meet with four infectious disease experts in the afternoon to determine any correlation between the deaths and the vaccine.
“For now, it appears unlikely that the deaths were caused by the vaccination,” the official added.
The third patient was a woman in her 20s, who suffered from epilepsy. She died two days after receiving the jab in the central city of Daejeon. The woman was also a patient at a long-term care hospital.
Health authorities have vowed to look closely into the deaths to determine any connection between them and the vaccine, but maintained that no correlation has been found in similar cases worldwide.
The KDCA said it would provide compensation of over 430 million won ($383,500) for deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine.
By The Numbers
85,904 people have received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and another 1,524 received Pfizer shots, KDCA said in a statement. South Korea reported 444 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, up from 344 on Monday, raising the country’s tally to 90,816 infections, with 1,612 deaths.