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Local governments report 28 deaths after AstraZeneca jabs in Taiwan

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

Local governments report 28 deaths after AstraZeneca jabs in Taiwan

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Over the past four days, 28 elderly people in eight cities and counties across Taiwan were reported to have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, but whether there is a direct causal relationship between the vaccinations and the deaths has yet to be determined.

On Tuesday (June 15), Taiwan began inoculating its citizens with 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was donated by Japan on June 4. The first group prioritized to receive shots was people aged 85 and above.

However, in just four days, there have been more than two dozen cases of elderly vaccine recipients suddenly dying after receiving their first dose of the vaccine. As of 8 a.m. on Friday (June 18), there were 28 such cases reported, with Taichung City reporting the most at six deaths, according to SET News.

When questioned about the apparent surge in deaths following inoculations at the Legislative Yuan on Thursday (June 17), Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that whether there is a direct causal relationship still remains to be investigated. He then emphasized "the advantages outweigh the disadvantages" and called on the public to continue to get vaccinated.

As of Friday, health departments in 12 cities and counties had reported sudden deaths following AZ jabs, including: three in Taipei City, five in New Taipei City, three in Taoyuan City, two in Hsinchu City, one in Hsinchu County, six in Taichung City, one in Changhua County, two in Yunlin County, one in Chiayi City, one in Tainan City, one in Kaohsiung City, and two in Pingtung County.

The ages of the 28 recipients who were reported dead ranged between 60 and 97. Of these recipients, 14 had long-term chronic illnesses, such as kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, while the health history of the other eight is not yet known.

The recipients experienced coughing, fever, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, coma, sputum, delirium, shortness of breath, and foaming at the mouth before their deaths. Five patients went into a coma before their vital signs ceased.

In response to the deaths reportedly occurring after receiving AstraZeneca vaccines, CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) on Thursday (June 17) 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 diseases. He said that autopsies of two patients showed that one suffered from arterial obstructive cardiovascular disease and acute myocardial infarction, while the other had arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with serious blockages in three arteries.

Chuang stated that based on statistics, 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 apparent adverse reactions after injections could be due to the shots or related to the patient's condition. "It could just be a coincidence that the adverse event occurred just after vaccination," said Chuang.

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

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