OVER 1,400 people have died from covid19 in Trinidad and Tobago but no one has died from the vaccine, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said at Wednesday's Ministry of Health virtual briefing.
Several reporters asked about adverse drug reactions (ADRs), including menstrual problems, in Trinidad and Tobago. This was in light of a British official report of complaints by 34,000 women that the vaccine had affected their periods.
Replying to the first reporter, Deyalsingh said the vaccine has the usual vaccine side effects such as vaccination site soreness, but that otherwise globally, "Things are being amplified, magnified and taken out of context."
Refering to Trinidad and Tobago, Deyalsingh said, "There have been five adverse events in a million doses of vaccines. No one has died. All those five cases have been managed and they have basically recovered."
He said apart from adverse events, side effects were less severe and were common to many types of vaccination, such as "pain at the injection site, soreness in your arm, a little bit of fever, which normally resolves in 24-48 hours."
Deyalsingh said people reported far fewer side effects with the Sinopharm vaccine, which had no reported adverse events that he knew of.
He remarked that most instances of vaccine hesitancy occurred within the Christian faith, saying many pastors in Tobago and in Trinidad were discouraging vaccination.
Deyalsingh said some 2,500 vaccines per day were being given nationwide.
Another reporter asked how many bleeding disorders did the ministry know of that were linked to vaccination.
"We have given out one million shots of vaccine and out of those one million, we have had five adverse events, all of which were investigated."
He said Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram had said all five individuals were doing well.
Deyalsingh said, "There has not been one death attributable to covid19 vaccines.
"The takeaway message is that 1,400 Trinidadians and Tobagonians have died from covid. Some 4.6 million people around the world have died from covid. Six billion shots of covid vaccine have been administered around the world
"So the takeaway message is, the benefits of vaccines far, far, far outweigh the minuscule risk as we continue to urge people to get vaccinated."
Earlier Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, director of Women's Health in the Ministry of Health, said the 34,000 complaints of menstrual changes in the UK came from some 47 million doses administered, working out at a complaint rate of 0.06 per cent.
He added, "Their agency doesn't link the vaccine to menstrual disturbances."
He said menstrual disturbances are common in women, vaccinated or unvaccinated, and can be related to hormones, stress, weight change, polycystic ovaries, thyroid disease and fibroids.
Sirjusingh made the point that since March 2020, some 657 pregnant women have contracted covid19. These were 68 last year, and this year 283 from January-June, 75 in July, 125 in August and 116 this month, up to September 17.
He lamented that two women had given birth but then died from covid19.
Given recent official statements about few reports of adverse events, Newsday asked what was the mechanism for reporting such concerns and whether the public had been notified of this.
Deyalsingh replied that reporting side effects of adverse events was decades old, while he admitted to people's heightened concern now.
He said a system used was the online Events Supposedly Attributable to Vaccines and Immunisations (ESAVI),
"It is available to all doctors, all A&Es (accident and emergency units), all health centres."
He said these reports were then sent to the TT-based Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI.)
"Reports are generated on a weekly basis, which are then sent to PAHO."
Deyalsingh said the CMO may then forward these reports if he deems it necessary.
"It goes to PAHO, the WHO and to the manufacturers, if warranted, by way of weekly reports."
Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards earlier said TT now has a weekly rolling average of 209 new infections per day.
Lamenting a worsening ratio of critically ill patients to recovering patients – from three to one in July and now four to one –she concluded,"There are implications for this uptick."