The government on Thursday termed as "absolutely baseless narrative" the allegations that it rushed to certify that the COVID-19 vaccination was not the cause of deaths of 19 health workers, saying no evidence suggests such a link so far and all details of these fatalities will be made public after deliberations by experts.
The deaths have been reported since the nationwide inoculation drive was launched on January 16 with over three crore healthcare and frontline workers prioritised to get the jabs initially.
Responding to a query during a press conference, Health Ministry secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there is a very structured and robust system for adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) monitoring in India and information regarding the cause of death of 19 persons will be out in the public domain soon.
Vouching for the safety of vaccines being administered in India, NITI Aayog Member VK Paul said that no death has been attributed to vaccines yet. "It is settled that these vaccines are safe. After giving 45 lakh doses, there are minimal side effects sometimes, like one person out of 1,150 persons got a side effect and no death has been attributed yet, proves that these vaccines are superbly safe and safest that can ever be devised," VK Paul said.
Elaborating on post-vaccination deaths, Mr Bhushan said that state AEFI committees have deliberated on all 19 deaths and there is no evidence of them being caused due to vaccination, but once the national AEFI committee meets and deliberates, there will be clarity.
"There are 19 deaths of vaccinated people. Post-mortem of all these deaths have been carried out by a board of three doctors. The state AEFI committees have deliberated on all these matters. There is no evidence of deaths caused due to the vaccination and once the national AEFI committee meets and deliberates on this, the data will be shared on public domain," he said.
"There is a process which needs to be completed. So those who say that government has rushed to certify that there is no causality is absolutely baseless narrative," Mr Bhushan said.
He said there is a very structured and robust system of AEFI monitoring in this country and added that it is being further strengthened. "We have a total of 8,563 AEFIs which have been captured in our digital system. We have done vaccination in lakhs. So what percentage is this? 0.18 per cent only. There have been so far 34 cases hospitalisation which is 0.0007 per cent of people immunised," Mr Bhushan said.