ICMR study shows COVID vaccine not responsible for heart attacks: Mansukh Mandaviya

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said ICMR has done a detailed study which shows that COVID-19 vaccine is not responsible for heart attacks, and an individual’s lifestyle and factors such as binge drinking could be among underlying causes.

Speaking at ‘ANI Dialogues – Navigating India’s health sector’ here on Saturday, the Union Health Minister said that the Modi government is working with a holistic approach so that people get affordable health care.

The Union Health Minister talked of  India’s efforts to supply COVID-19 vaccines to around 150 countries in the world and said that it has generated enormous goodwill in those countries.

Answering a query,  Mandaviya said there had been attempts to create misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines.

"If someone has a stroke today, some people think it is because of the COVID vaccine. ICMR has done a detailed study on this. (COVID) vaccine is not responsible for heart attacks. There are multiple reasons for heart attacks, like our lifestyle, tobacco and excess liquor consumption... Sometimes, misinformation goes among the people and a perception is formed for some time. But whatever decision we make, it should be data-based and scientific research-based,” the minister said.

According to a peer-reviewed ICMR study that came out in November last year, vaccines administered for COVID-19 did not increase the risk of sudden death among young adults in India but it was the post-Covid hospitalisation, family history of sudden death, and certain lifestyle behaviours that are likely the underlying causes.

The study by Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) was conducted through the participation of 47 tertiary care hospitals across India. Cases were apparently healthy individuals aged 18-45 years without any known co-morbidity, who suddenly died of unexplained causes between October 2021-March 2023.

Interviews were recorded to collect data on COVID-19 vaccination, infection and post-COVID-19 conditions, family history of sudden death, smoking, recreational drug use, alcohol frequency and binge drinking and vigorous-intensity physical activity two days before death.

"Lifestyle factors such as current smoking status, alcohol use frequency, recent binge drinking, recreational drug/substance use and vigorous-intensity activity were positively associated with unexplained sudden death. As compared to never users, the more the frequency of alcohol use, the higher was the odds for unexplained sudden death," the study said.

The study was done in view of some anecdotal reports of sudden unexplained deaths in India's, apparently healthy young adults during the once-in-a-century pandemic.

Mandaviya said at the ANI Dialogues that the government took decisions concerning vaccination based on advice of experts and scientific evidence.    

"When the vaccine was given, an attempt was made at that time to create a misperception that this vaccine is not good. Then political questions were raised that if it (vaccine) was good then why PM Modi is not taking it?...PM Modi falls under the category of 60 years without comorbidities and he took the vaccine in the third category,” he said

“Mansukh Mandaviya is minister not scientist. So my decision should be scientific. You should have seen that during COVID, empowered groups were created. And technical teams made the decisions and I approved. But decision was theirs, not mine,” he added.

The Union Health Minister talked of the speed at which COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out in India due to determination of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  He said PM Modi told scientists that resources will not be constraint in the developing the vaccine.

He said PM Modi conveyed that India should also send vaccines to other countries after meeting its needs.    

"During COVID-19, I conveyed the message of PM Modi to companies that it's time to cooperate with the world and it would be better if we won't hike the prices. Indian companies have supplied medicines to 150 countries but haven't hiked the price. None of the countries have ever complained, we have supplied quality and affordable medicine to the world. When the price of the vaccine was at USD 20-30, we supplied it either for free under the Vaccine Maitri initiative or at the minimal cost of USD 2 to 3. Now the world thinks that India is such a country that gives priority to human service and stands firm as a friend when needed,”  Mandaviya said.

The union minister also referred to his meeting with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who lauded India’s COVID-19 management and vaccination.      

“Bill Gates is in India, and when he speaks it turns into a perception all over the world. At the World Economic Forum, I had a meeting with him, when we shook hands, he said, congratulations India, you have done good COVID management and vaccination drive," the minister said.

According to the Economic Survey 2022-23, tabled by government in Parliament,  India had administered more than 220 crore Covid vaccine doses across the country as on January 6, 2023.

He said India was never short of brain power and manpower but will power and PM Modi has fulfilled this gap.

The minister also talked of the need to take inspiration from advancements in medicine in India’s ancient past.    

"If you go to medical universities all over the world, you'll see the statue of Sushruta, the entire world takes inspiration from him. We haven't built his statue, this was a mistake. But don't we have the right to correct this mistake? National Medical Commission had a Greek god in its logo, I don't have an issue with that, but shouldn't we respect our God and heritage. I said that I want the new generation to take inspiration from the scientists that we had, and hence I have changed the logo...Every person should work with commitment and dedication towards the nation. India is an able nation, it never has short of brain power and manpower but will power, PM Modi has fulfilled this," he said.

The Union Minister said that health sector will play a vital role in India becoming a developed country.

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