No proof COVID-19 vaccine caused deaths — expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) — There has been no evidence so far that a coronavirus vaccine has caused a person's death, the head of the Task Force COVID-19 Adverse Effects said Tuesday.

"Wala pa pong na-prove na may namatay (It has not been proven that a person died) because of any COVID vaccine," Dr. Maricar Ong told a briefing.

Ong, citing available data on the COVID-19 vaccines made by US-based Moderna and Pfizer, added that severe allergies due to anti-coronavirus shots are "rare."

"So far, we have the data on the mRNA vaccines katulad po ng Pfizer and Moderna. Sa Pfizer, 5 in one million po ang anaphylaxis pero sa Moderna, around 2.5 or 2.8 per million," said Ong, who is also an allergist and internist. Anaphylaxis is an acute and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[Translation: So far, we have the data on the mRNA vaccines like those made by Pfizer and Moderna. For Pfizer, the anaphylaxis reported is five in one million, while for Moderna, it is around 2.5 or 2.8 per million.]

Health experts are not recommending a second shot to anyone who has had a history of serious allergies to the ingredients of the vaccines developed by either Pfizer or Moderna. These vaccines, whose efficacy in large-scale clinical trials is well over 90%, each require two doses so people could get the full benefit.

Ong said side effects from anti-coronavirus shots, which subside after around three days, are usually mild to moderate. She added that common reactions to COVID-19 vaccines include temporary arm pain, headache, and fatigue.

There is also no evidence that taking medicine before vaccination could prevent side effects, according to Ong, who noted reactions to vaccines are normal signs that the body is building protection against the virus. She said even the US CDC advises those about to receive a COVID-19 vaccine against premedication.

"Itong side effects, kung lumabas man, at saka bibigyan ng gamot (These side effects, if they show, then that is the time a doctor can prescribe medicine.) Expected po ang (These) side effects (are expected) because you are stimulating your immune system," Ong added.