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Update: Local governments report 18 deaths after AstraZeneca jabs in Taiwan

Health minister responds by saying direct causal relationship still needs to be investigated

Medical worker holding up AstraZeneca vaccine vial in Taipei City on June 16. 

Medical worker holding up AstraZeneca vaccine vial in Taipei City on June 16.  (CNA photo)

Update 06/17 7 p.m.

TVBS reports that the number who have died following an AstraZeneca dose has risen to 18, including one in Taipei, three New Taipei City, one in Hsinchu County, two in Hsinchu City, one in Taoyuan, four in Taichung, one in Changhua County, one Chiayi City, two in Yunlin County, one in Tainan, and one in Kaohsiung.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Over the past three days, 12 elderly people in eight cities and counties across Taiwan were reported to have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

In response to the surge in local COVID-19 cases, Taiwan began to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine on a large scale on June 15. Among the 2.68 million slated to receive this first wave of shots are vulnerable groups such as residents of long-term care facilities, kidney dialysis patients, and people over the age of 75.

However, reports have started to pour in of recipients dying after returning home from their injection. As of Thursday (June 17), health departments in eight cities and counties have reported 12 sudden deaths following AZ jabs, including one in Taipei, three in New Taipei City, one in Hsinchu County, one in Hsinchu City, three in Taichung, one in Changhua County, one in Chiayi City, and one in Kaohsiung, reported TVBS.

Whether these deaths are the result of adverse reactions to the vaccine has yet to be confirmed.

Since the launch of public vaccination in June, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has only officially announced two deaths following AstraZeneca vaccinations. One was in Chiayi City, while the location of the other has not yet been revealed.

The CECC is still investigating whether these two deaths were the result of an adverse reaction to the vaccine. As of June 16, a total of 1.916 million people have received at least one dose nationwide.

Among these, the CECC has reported 133 suspected serious adverse reactions, including the two deaths, eight severe allergic reactions, and 123 other serious adverse events.

The ages of the 12 recipients who were reported dead ranged between 59 and 97. Of these recipients, six had long-term chronic illnesses, three had Alzheimer's disease, and the health history of the other three is not yet known.

In response to the deaths reportedly occurring after receiving AstraZeneca vaccines, CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 11 deaths following an AstraZeneca jab have been reported in Taiwan, eight of which occurred in persons over the age of 75.

Chuang said the vast majority of the deceased were elderly people who had been suffering from chronic disease. He said that autopsies showed two had died from existing chronic conditions, while investigations are still ongoing into the other deaths.

Chuang stated that it's expected that an average of 200 people over the age of 75 will die every day. In the case of the U.K., there have been 863 deaths reported as having resulted from an adverse reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine out of 24.5 million doses delivered as of June 2, he pointed out.

He stated that many of what appear to be adverse reactions after injections might be due to the shots or might be related to conditions. "It could just be a coincidence that the adverse event occurred just after vaccination," said Chuang.

He said that the causes of death in these recent cases need to be investigated and clarified. Chuang pledged that the CECC will continue to monitor adverse events following jabs, and he called on the public to rest assured that the vaccines are safe.

Chuang stressed that thus far, there have been no deaths directly attributed to any COVID-19 vaccine in Taiwan.

Updated : 2021-07-29 16:20 GMT+08:00