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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh,

Bavita Gopaulchan

Health officials have received no official report of people being paralysed after taking a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said so while responding to claims by three people, including a 16-year-old boy, that they suffered adverse reactions, including paralysis, after being vaccinated.

The claims were made by the families at a news conference hosted by the National Trade Union Centre on Tuesday.

Deyalsingh said while he does not want to “downplay” the claims, without any medical records, it cannot be confirmed what exactly took place.

“First of all, if it genuine we express our concerns but we have no way of knowing because no medical evidence was put forward,” Deyalsingh said.

“Whether the claim is that the vaccine did ‘a’, ‘b’, or ‘c’, or whether the healthcare professionals did not do their job it is impossible for me to say. What I can say is if you have the names or addresses or phone contacts of those individuals, we would be more than willing to contact them or uncover the facts” the minister noted.

He emphasised that all adverse events after vaccination should be reported to the County Medical Officers of Health.

“If a patient has come down with any adverse events – not side effect or pain at the injection site or simple fever which is easily resolved – private sector doctors report that to the county medical officers of health. Those reports then go to Mr. Hinds’ unit, the National Surveillance Unit, and it is copied to the expanded unit for immunization,” Deyalsingh explained.

“It also goes to the Chief Medical Officer and PAHO and depending on what is being manifested by the patient is an unusual adverse event not listed in the literature that is put out, it is also reported to the manufacturer,” he added.

There is a similar reporting process for public healthcare professionals such as the Accident and Emergency Unit, the Community Liaison Unit and the public health observatory.

“What is interesting is that – I am not doubting the veracity that something may have happened – but in the absence of a medical certificate stating what has happened it is difficult to make a determination,” he stressed.

Deyalsingh noted that health officials are still taking the claims seriously.

According to Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds it is important to note that, just because two events happen close to each other does not necessarily mean they are related.

“What would be needed to establish that causal link will be some specialist review of the sequence of events. The types of symptoms, the actual unfolding of the medical event and the test result that would suggest whether or not this is actually related to the pre-existing vaccination event,” Hinds explained.

“There is a lot of additional specialists’ reviews that would be required to make that sought of determination nonetheless, once something like that is reported, it will be investigated,” he assured.

Hinds is hoping the public would, “not take these reports, unconfirmed or otherwise” as an excuse to not take the jab especially since most of the COVID-related deaths recorded thus far are unvaccinated patients.

“If we have a small number of adverse events which have not yet been confirmed out of 1.3 million vaccines taken, it is clearly a much higher risk to have the virus than to have the vaccine,” according to him.

What the health officials have scientific evidence to confirm is that safe zones have not been contributed to a surge in cases. This claim was made by NATUC’s general secretary, Michael Annisette as he called for safe zones to be abolished.

“There is no logical or scientific basis on which to make the claim that the measures to reduce risk during public interaction would be conversely increasing the risk of transmission. What you would see is if people aren’t adhering to or trying to find loopholes to escape the various requirements, now that will increase the risk but we are going to hope that those aren’t in the majority,” Hinds said.

Deyalsingh also responded saying, “I think as a country we should be happy that we are finding ways to live with the virus and coexists with the virus. I was quite taken aback by that call because who is going to pay the rents? Who is going to put food on the table if we take that call to shut down safe zones”.

He said the risk of having people employed in a safe environment far outweighs any other risks. The Minister also confirmed that out of the 1.44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, there were no vaccine-related deaths.