Health Ministry releases info on adverse reactions to covid19 vaccines

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

First Wave Movement leader Umar Abdullah – File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

A HIGH COURT judge has ordered the Ministry of Health to pay the legal costs incurred by First Wave Movement leader Umar Abdullah, who sought information on adverse reports of covid19 vaccines.

Justice Frank Seepersad made the cost order at a virtual hearing on January 6.

The judge also said the information sought by Abdullah was important in the public’s interest and should have been provided by the ministry.

Seepersad said it was important for citizens to know the possible risks associated with these vaccines so that they can make informed decisions in deciding to subject themselves to the jab.

The ministry did not put in an appearance at the February 6 hearing although the State had been served with the court’s previous orders when leave was granted and the claim.

The ministry was ordered to pay $17,500 in costs because only some of the information Abdullah asked for was provided after he filed his lawsuit.

On October 10, 2023, Abdullah said he embarked on a project to get information on covid19 vaccines.

He asked for the total number of adverse reports of covid19 vaccines; a list of all the reports identifying specific concerns – for example, blood clots, headaches, stroke and heart attack – the number of people who died because of the vaccine and copies of all reports sent to vaccine manufacturers, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

He said during the pandemic, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry’s system to address the reporting of adverse events of covid19 vaccines was the online Events Supposedly Attributable to Vaccines and Immunisations (ESAVI).

On January 16, the ministry responded.

The ministry said the total number of adverse reports made to ESAVI up to August 10, 2023, was 50. It also provided a breakdown of the signs and symptoms. There were also zero deaths as a result of the vaccine.

They included body pain; nerve pain; weakness; heavy, irregular, longer menstrual periods and later periods; pronounced pre-menstrual symptoms; heart palpitations; severe coughing; increased pulse and blood pressure; pain at the injection point; twitching of the face; muscle spasms and pain; joint pain; tingling of the hands and feet; fevers; shortness of breath; and headaches.

An epileptic patient reported increased seizures.

The ministry said it did not have the number of people that recovered from any adverse effect nor did it have reports sent to the manufacturers, PAHO or the WHO.

On the latter, Abdullah’s attorney Keron Ramkhalwhan said this was contrary to what the minister said publicly.

At a September 21, 2021, media briefing, Deyalsingh spoke about the ESAVI system, which he said was available to all doctors, all A&Es (accident and emergency units), and all health centres.

He said these reports were then sent to the Trinidad and Tobago-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.”

At the time, he also said over 1,400 people died from covid19 but none from the vaccine.

A May 2, 2023, update on the ministry’s website said 718,969 people were fully vaccinated or 51.4 per cent of the population.

Also representing Abdullah was attorney Shalini Sankar.