TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to concerns over deaths that reportedly follow AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccinations, Central Epidemic Command Center head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) pointed out that Taiwan's mortality rate for vaccinations is comparable to other countries and there is no "danger signal"
At a meeting of the Legislative Yuan on Friday morning, KMT lawmaker Fai Hong-tai (費鴻泰) said there were reports of 28 people having died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. He claimed that "almost no one in my electoral district wants to be vaccinated," but added vaccinations are the key to ending the Level 3 alert and asked for a status report from Chen.
Chen responded the CECC had received reports of 25 people having died after being inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. He stressed that overall, vaccination is still the most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19 infections and deaths.
He pointed out that 400 million people have received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. "Based on past experience, some people will have negative health effects during mass vaccination, including death, which may or may not be related to the vaccination. More investigation is needed," said Chen.
Chen pointed out that in the United Kingdom, South Korea, and other countries, the mortality rate after AZ vaccination is equivalent to that of other brands of vaccines. In Taiwan, after being given AZ doses, regardless of age, the death rate is about 20 cases per million, which is about the same as other countries.
He added, the number of notifications appears to be relatively high due to the fact that the current priority group is elderly people over 75 years old. However, it is still within the range seen in other countries and there are no "danger signals."
At the CECC press conference on Friday (June 18), Chen said when it comes to vaccinations for individuals over the age of 75, South Korea has a death rate of 1.42 per 10,000 people, while Taiwan is reporting 0.87.
Chen pointed out the elderly often have chronic diseases, and the rate of death from infection and severe illness is high, while there may also be an increased risk from cluster infections within their family. He asserted the benefits from vaccination still outweigh the risks.
Chen said data shows the natural mortality rate for those over the age of 75 is 200 per day. Taiwan was vaccinating people over the age 85 and the natural mortality rate of this age group is higher than the general population.
CECC Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that of the 25 deaths reported after vaccination, five occurred at long-term care facilities and four patients were on dialysis.
Chuang said that 22 had chronic diseases, while the medical histories of three others are being investigated. The three autopsies that have been carried out showed the patients had blood vessel-related health issues.
Chen said thus far no deaths have been attributed directly to the vaccine. However, he said the cause of death in each case must be fully investigated.
Chen advised that if a potential recipient's physical condition is unstable, they should first consult with a physician before being vaccinated. In addition, if the weather is hot, precautions should be taken to keep the elderly patient cool and to be sure to opt for a vaccination site that is nearby.