'Sudden Deaths' after Pentavalent vaccination: Is the vaccine really safe?

23 July 2010

I am a member of the group that filed the petition against the Pentavalent vaccine in the Delhi High Court. I could not sign the earlier letter to the BMJ as I was out of the country. I write to endorse that letter and also to provide new data on the deaths following Pentavalent vaccination in Asia; in Pakistan and Bhutan. There have been 3 deaths in Pakistan and 8 deaths in Bhutan following Pentavalent vaccination, besides the deaths in Sri Lanka.

According to an expert on the committee investigating the Pakistan deaths, one child died within half an hour of receiving the vaccine and 2 others died within 12 to 14 hours. No alternate cause of death was found for any of the deaths but the experts misleadingly suggest that ‘two cases were diagnosed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) but we (the experts) were not sure of the third case’ (1). Yet in no case was the vaccine blamed for the deaths.

The 'expert report' on the 8 deaths in Bhutan is not available in the public domain as far as we can ascertain. A WHO spokesperson is reported to have said the cause of death in Bhutan was not vaccination, but they were due to a three other causes namely ‘sudden death, convulsions and meningitis’ (2).

It seems that no effort has been made to follow the WHO protocol for classification of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) in Pakistan or Bhutan. All the cases of sudden death following vaccination would have been classified as ‘Very likely’ or ‘Probably’ related to the vaccine if the standard AEFI classification were employed. This large cluster of ‘sudden death’ in Asia, following immunization with Pentavalent vaccine needs to be investigated dispassionately before more lives are lost.

S K Mittal MD
Formerly Professor and Head of Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, India.
skmittal44@yahoo.com

References

1. Mansoor F. Introduction of the pentavalent vaccine into RI in India- is it relevent in SEA Region? TechNet 21. http://www.technet21.org/forumV3/viewtopic.php?t=1740 Accessed on 22/7/10

2. Choden T. WHO declares the vaccine safe. Bhutan Times 30/5/2010 http://www.bhutantimes.bt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2003... Accessed on 22/7/10

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: None declared

S. K. Mittal, Chairman Department of Pediatrics

Pushpanjali Crossway Hospital, Gaziabad, NCR.

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