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Autopsy reveals what killed recipient of Taiwan's Medigen vaccine

CECC chief says still no confirmation vaccine was cause of death

Package of Medigen vaccine doses. 

Package of Medigen vaccine doses.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An autopsy has revealed that the first person in Taiwan reported to have died after receiving the Medigen COVID-19 vaccine perished due to an aortic dissection combined with cardiac tamponade.

The 56-year-old man, a Malaysian-born columnist and poet surnamed Lu (陸), got the Medigen jab in Taoyuan on Monday (Aug. 23), the first day the Taiwan-developed was administered, according to a CNA report.

He fell unconscious the following morning and was soon pronounced dead at a hospital, becoming the first of four individuals to have died after receiving the vaccine to date.

In a press briefing on Thursday (Aug. 26), Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the autopsy on Lu indicated that the cause of death was an aortic dissection combined with cardiac tamponade.

An aortic dissection is a separation of the layers of the aortic wall caused by an inciting intimal injury, while cardiac tamponade happens when extra fluid builds up in the space around the heart, stopping it from pumping properly.

Chuang added that the other three fatalities have not been autopsied yet, as the government is still waiting for permission from their relatives.

Meanwhile, Health Minister and CECC chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) emphasized the CECC has to wait for the final autopsy reports to determine whether the vaccine directly led to the deaths, as there is currently no indication of a causal relationship.

He also revealed the vaccine doses given to the four individuals had come from different production batches.

Beyond the four who have died, two other recipients of the Medigen vaccine have experienced life-threatening adverse reactions, while another 21 have had non-serious reactions over the past four days, according to the CECC.

Chen stressed that the negative news has not significantly affected public willingness to get the vaccine, citing a 92.8% turnout on Monday and 90.2% the next day.

The native vaccine, developed and produced by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., has been controversial because it was granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in July, before starting phase 3 trials, based only on the number of antibodies it generated.

The vaccine only completed an enlarged phase 2/3 trial of under 4,000 participants in Taiwan that did not generate any data on its efficacy.

Updated : 2021-09-21 20:34 GMT+08:00