The government confirms two post-vaccination deaths, denies the link to the vaccine in one case while a post-mortem report is expected in another.
India has stepped up efforts to build confidence in coronavirus vaccines after it was revealed that nearly a third of those invited to receive the vaccine during the launch of a nationwide campaign did not show up .
The government confirmed Monday evening that two post-vaccination deaths had been reported.
One was a 52-year-old man who, according to the health ministry, died in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday from “cardiopulmonary disease” and not from the injection.
An autopsy is underway on a 43-year-old man in Karnataka state who suffered a heart attack.
The government said that in the first three days of vaccination, 580 people reported unwanted symptoms.
India launched one of the world’s most ambitious immunization programs last week, aiming to immunize 300 million of its population of 1.3 billion by July.
In the first three days of the campaign, which began on Saturday, the government said 381,305 vaccinations had been administered.
In the capital New Delhi, only 53% of those expected came to be vaccinated, according to a health official.
“These are the first days and we understand that people are waiting to see how the procedure goes and how the other vaccines go,” said Suneela Garg, member of the coronavirus task force for the capital.
“These numbers will increase as confidence builds. And for that, we must fight against disinformation.
The Hindu newspaper reported that in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the turnout was only 16 percent.
At a community health center in Rohtak district, northern Haryana state, only 29 out of 100 people expected showed up, a doctor told AFP news agency.
“People are very scared. You can’t force anyone to take the vaccine, it’s voluntary, ”the doctor said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
With public doubting the spread of drugs on social media, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan changed his Twitter profile header to read “VACCINES WORK.”
“From the start, we warned people not to worry about this spreading disinformation,” Vardhan told the media.
India has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, nearly 10.5 million.
It has so far approved two vaccines for use: the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by an Indian company and a home vaccine developed by Bharath Biotech which has yet to complete clinical trials.