As the pandemic raged on into a second year, the world hoped that widespread covid vaccines would be essential to contain it. While physical distancing, universal face coverings, and frequent handwashing are effective, they have not proved foolproof against a virus that has already killed more than 2.65 million people worldwide and infected 120 million-plus.
An array of vaccines started being administered to people around the world in early December 2020 and so far, some 300 million doses have been dispensed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The main vaccines that have been rolled out to the masses include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Novavax.
But they have not been without challenges. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been discontinued in several countries over concerns that it could be causing blood clots, while the Pfizer vaccine use was discontinued in Japan after a woman died.
Here is what you should know about what has been documented about covid-19 vaccines out there:
The World Health Organization’s advisory committee on vaccine safety is looking into reports that AstraZeneca caused blood clots in some people, necessitating its discontinuation by some countries. Denmark, Norway and Iceland have temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s covid-19 vaccine over concerns about patients developing post-jab blood clots. The manufacturer and the European Medicines Agency insisted the vaccine was safe.
Reports of four U.S. deaths after different covid-19 vaccination have not been confirmed by either the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or local authorities. A 39-year-old woman from Ogden, Utah, died four days after her second shot of the Moderna vaccine while others received the Pfizer vaccine.
In Japan, a woman in her 60s died after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. The cause of death was believed to be subarachnoid hemorrhage, but the causal relationship with the vaccine was indeterminable, according to the country’s health ministry.
Reports of 23 deaths among elderly vaccine recipients in Norway raised safety concerns about covid-19 vaccines.
The CDC says that “reports of adverse events (possible side effects) after vaccination do not mean that the reported problem was caused by a vaccine.” They are instead signals that can alert scientists to investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships. So when seven deaths are listed as adverse events around covid-19 vaccinations, it doesn’t reveal the full picture of why these individuals actually died.
Physicians with the CDC and FDA investigate all reports of deaths as soon as they’re notified. All vaccination providers are required to report to the FDA any death after covid-19 vaccination. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is a program for vaccine safety, co-managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. “To date, VAERS has not detected patterns in cause of death that would indicate a safety problem with covid-19 vaccines,” the CDC’s website reads.
In the U.S., some 1,637 deaths have been reported after a covid vaccine was administered between Dec. 14, 2020 and March 8, 2021. More than 92 million vaccines were administered over the same period.
“A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths. CDC and FDA will continue to investigate reports of adverse events, including deaths, reported to VAERS,” the CDC reported.
While some people experience reactions to vaccines and exhibit mild covid-19 symptoms, vaccines cannot give anyone a disease. They only teach your body’s immune system to recognize and fight the infection they have been designed to protect against. Mild symptoms after being vaccinated are not the disease itself, but the body’s response to the vaccine.
It is common to have fatigue, headache, nausea and fever after a covid-19 vaccine shot, but it does not mean you have been infected. It only means that your body is building protection against the virus, doctors say. In rare cases, a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis may occur, most often in people known to have had severe vaccine reactions in the past. CDC estimates suggest that anaphylaxis occurs in 11 cases per million doses among people receiving the Pfizer vaccine.
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