Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards

There have been no deaths relating to the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Ministry of Health.

This follows a recent Facebook post by a woman who claimed her 12-year-old niece died after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Asked by Guardian Media to address this claim during the ministry’s COVID-19 virtual media conference yesterday, Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said, “At this point in time, the ministry does not have any information regarding the death of a 12-year-old child post-vaccine administration.”

Reminding members of the public that vaccines are safe, accessible and available at the ministry’s 109 health centres, as well as mass vaccination sites, Abdool-Richards urged them to vaccinate in order to reduce the risk of hospitalisation.

Senior Corporate Communications Officer at the ministry, Al Alexander, also reminded the public against trusting non-credible sources of information.

He said, “Thus far, there have been no deaths related to vaccinations from COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Reminding the public of the ministry’s August 26 release indicating this, he said, “The public is advised to trust the Ministry of Health websites and social media pages. If you see rumours going around, please check on our sites to verify these rumours. We do have accurate and up-to-date information on our website and social media pages.”

Abdool-Richards also indicated that the seven nationals infected with the Delta variant so far are doing clinically well and have recovered. In her presentation, Abdool-Richards indicated that there has been a decreased burden on the parallel health care system.

“Over time and over the past three weeks, we have seen less additional cases admitted into the system and this is a good indicator at this point, because it indicates a decreased burden on the overall system.”

She noted that the total number of patients in the parallel health care system, which comprises 16 institutions, is 352.

But, she added, “Three times as many patients are severely and critically ill as opposed to recovering patients. This again emphasises the need for COVID-19 prevention through vaccination because it really emphasises and underscores that persons with COVID-19 can become severely and critically ill and require ICU and HDU care.

“We have been noticing a slow but consistent decline in the overall occupancy, which has been under 40 per cent since July 15, 2021. At this point, I would like to indicate that this trend can actually be reversed so we are not prematurely comforted by the low occupancy.”

She also pointed out that only one of the nine hospitals for severely ill and critical COVID-19 patients -Augustus Long Hospital – is above the caution threshold of 75 per cent.

Regarding the seven step down facilities for recovering patients, she said those facilities are under 75 per cent. She said ward occupancy is at 32 per cent, meaning three out of ten beds are currently occupied.

While ICU levels are at 66 per cent, she said the average ICU occupancy over the last month has been 80 per cent while HDU occupancy is at 38 per cent with an average of 57 per cent.

Regarding the traditional health care system across the ten Accident and Emergency Departments, she said there has been a minimal number of patients requiring admission into the parallel health care facility.

“At this time, this is a good indicator. Currently, this morning there was one patient at the ERHA, one patient at SWRHA A&E, three patients at the NWRHA A&E and three patients at the NCRHA,” Abdool-Richards said.

She reminded the public that vaccination is the key to preventing themselves and their loved ones from being admitted to the hospital and it saves lives.