Sarawak Health Director: Death of vaccine recipient not due to anaphylaxis

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A health worker prepares a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. — Bernama photo

KUCHING (June 28): The death of a 57-year-old woman in Miri was not due to ‘anaphylaxis’ – or severe allergic reactions – after having received her Covid-19 vaccine, confirmed Sarawak Health director Dato Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed.

In a statement yesterday, he said the incident had received public attention after the woman, Choo Fui Khian, was pronounced dead at Miri Hospital after she had taken the first dose of the vaccine earlier at the hospital’s public vaccination centre (PPV) on June 26.

“Following post-mortem carried out on June 27, our earlier investigation had found signs of heart attack occurring two or three days prior to her death.”

Dr Mohamed Sapian said the post-mortem report also indicated that there was no sign of anaphylactic shock experienced by the woman after being administered with the vaccine.

“The case is still under investigation at Miri Hospital, and we are waiting for results from the tests conducted.”

Dr Mohamed Sapian also said the woman had comorbidities of diabetes and high blood pressure.

“After initial screening and upon receiving informed consent, the woman was administered with a vaccine dose at 9.20am, on June 26.

“While at the monitoring zone post-vaccination, she complained about feeling nauseous and being cold, and then she vomited at 9.30am.

“She was given immediate treatment at the resuscitation zone by the emergency medical experts. However, her conditions soon deteriorated – she was then rushed to Miri Hospital emergency unit.”

Dr Mohamed Sapian said emergency treatment was administered continuously for 40 minutes before the woman was pronounced dead at 11.10am.

“Members of the public are strongly advised to not speculate over this case, and to only obtain official information from trusted sources,” he reminded.

This was after a 25-second video clip showing the woman in distress being attended to by health workers at the PPV, was shared on social media on Sunday.

Meanwhile in Miri, Senator Alan Ling had called for the standard operating procedures (SOP) at all PPVs to be enhanced, especially on the precautionary measures so that each individual, especially those with records of illnesses, would be subject to thorough interviews, screening and medical checks prior to being confirmed for Covid-19 vaccination.

He believed that by enhancing these steps, it would boost the confidence of many people and likely to reduce the associated risks.

Ling said Choo’s daughter had lodged a police report last Saturday at Miri Central station over the death of her mother.

“I learned that post-mortem was carried out yesterday (Sunday) and the body had been sent to the family home at Ocean Park, with the funeral scheduled on Wednesday,” said the senator.

He said Choo’s family members also concurred with him about enhancing the SOP at the PPVs.

“Without prejudice to any party for the time being, the family members hope that the report would be conducted fairly and be made known to them as soon as practicable and as such, I immediately sent a letter to Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah highlighting this case, and ask for the investigation be expedited,” said Ling, adding that the bereaving family reserved the right to pursue the matter further.

“As a lawyer, I will continue to monitor the matter and provide legal assistance whenever required,” said the senator, who was accompanied by Democratic Action Party Socialist Youth (Dapsy) Sarawak chief Peter Hee and DAP Piasau vice-chairman Tan Huong Ing at the wake.

Later yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin attended the wake to pay last respects to the late Choo.

In conveying his condolences to the bereaving family, Lee, who is Senadin assemblyman, also called upon members of public to not spread any speculation about the case via any means or media.