Health officials in the Southeastern Nation of Vietnam have suspended the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine known as either BNT162b2 or Comirnaty after over 120 children were hospitalized after a group vaccination at school. The central province of Thanh Hoa has been inoculating children ages 15 to 17 since November 30, but this most recent shocking incident put a halt to the effort. Children experienced severe symptoms from nausea and high fever to difficulties breathing, reported the Central Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Three children have died from an overreaction to the Pfizer vaccine in Bac Giang, a province near Hanoi, and Binh Phuoc, a province in the South, with the press there acknowledging that the cause of death was “overreaction to the vaccine.”
Reported in multiple Vietnamese media including VN Express—yet no mainstream media—17 of the 120 or so of the adolescents and teens had severe reactions. The cohort continues to be monitored at the hospital, according to officials from the central province of Thanh Hoa. Luong Ngoc directs the CDC for the Thanh Hoa province reporting “We still have other batches, also Pfizer vaccines, so we will continue vaccinating the children.” But the batch associated with the severe reactions would be placed in storage, and surprisingly repurposed for adults, Truong suggested.
‘Normal Side Effects’ or Something More
According to VN Express’ Le Hoang, the director of Ha Trung District General Hospital, Vu Van Chinh declared side effects are normal and more likely to occur in children than adults. The health director noted, “Those who have reactions or faint need to be separated so no chain reaction occurs.”
So far in the Thanh Hoa province, the CDC has distributed about 117,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to 27 districts and towns, with a total of 56,700 doses administered, writes Le Hoang. But, the deaths are by no means typical.
As mentioned, three children died recently from an overreaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Last week, according to local media, four workers in a shoe factory—Kim Viet Shoe in Thanh Hoa, died after the Vero Cell COVID-19 vaccination with a cause deemed as an “overreaction.”
TrialSite suggests that this kind of information needs to be more readily available to broader groups of people, especially with child deaths. That is because children face far less risk due to hospitalization and death. Note, that this changed somewhat from the first Wuhan strain (wild type) to the more transmissible Delta variant. It is not clear yet with Omicron how severe this variant of concern will actually be. The World Health Organization reported late last week that at least so far no deaths were reported due to the new variant of concern.
Call to Action: TrialSite has correspondents in Asia including India, Pakistan, and Indonesia, and will continue to monitor these situations.