Data is clear - a majority of COVID19 deaths among unvaccinated in J&K

With the fresh threat of the Omicron variant, many people have begun to ask whether the vaccines would be effective against the fast spreading mutant.
Data is clear - a majority of COVID19 deaths among unvaccinated in J&K
A health worker walks along the paddy fields during an open air vaccination drive in Kashmir, on Saturday 5, June 2021.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

In the recent past, a vast majority of people who succumbed to SARS-CoV2 infection in Kashmir division had not taken a single shot of COVID19 vaccine, records from COVID19 designated hospitals show. That alone should be a reason for getting the jab; it seems it’s not.

The deaths caused by SARS-CoV2 infection have not abated for the past two months in Kashmir, especially in district Srinagar. In the seven weeks reference period, from 01 November to 16 December, 76 people in J&K have lost life to the viral infection. Of these, 60 were from Kashmir division. In the month of December, 32 deaths have taken place in J&K due to COVID19, of which 25 were from Kashmir division. The continued death toll in December, in spite of the total positive cases dropping, has doctors concerned. However, an analysis of details of the casualties shows trends that underline the importance of vaccination in prevention of death in people infected with SARS-CoV2.

At Chest Diseases Hospital Srinagar, a hospital that is dedicated for admission and treatment of people infected with COVID19, 20 people succumbed in the past one month, hospital records show. Of these, 16 had not taken any dose of COVID19 vaccine. Of the remaining four, three had taken both the vaccine doses while the fourth had taken only the first dose. The records further show that 11 people had tested negative before their death but continued to suffer severe symptoms of the respiratory viral infection that has shown to cause multi-organ complications in many. The other nine were positive at the time of their death. At DRDO COVID19 Hospital, in the month of November, 13 people died due to the Virus. A huge majority, nine, of these casualties, were unvaccinated. The remaining four were fully vaccinated. Since the hospital started operations in July this year, 29 fatalities in total have taken place, records of Health and Medical Education Department J&K show. Of these, 19 were unvaccinated and 10 fully vaccinated. Among the fully vaccinated group, five had underlying comorbidities.

A senior official while commenting on the data said it was a matter of concern that a high number of people are losing battle with COVID19 in Kashmir division, most of them unvaccinated. He said three fourths of all fatalities in Kashmir now are from district Srinagar. Recently, one of these casualties included a 35 year old woman. “We have been looking at the data and it is quite saddening that a majority of people who died were unvaccinated,” he said. The official said that although J&K has recorded full vaccination of the eligible population – 18 years and above, still, the everyday deaths, almost all of them unvaccinated, were ‘worrying’ and showed that there was a population yet to get a jab. “We don’t know their number, but the deaths of the unvaccinated were proof that thousands are yet to be reached,” he said.

Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman said that the ‘miniscule population’ that had not taken the vaccine, especially in Srinagar district, was ‘the resistant lot’. “We have vaccines in adequate numbers, vaccination has been going on for months, and our healthcare workers have even visited homes to motivate people to get the shot. Yet, there still are some who refuse,” he said, adding that the department could not “force anyone”. He said in Srinagar, about 9 lakh people were vaccinated and the district, due to its fluctuating numbers owing to a mobile population “could have some” who were not counted in. “We have not stopped vaccination but what can you do about those who would not agree to get a vaccine at any cost,” he said.

Regarding the three casualties under discussion, he said, “Our teams inquired and we found that the entire family had received the vaccine, except the ones who succumbed,” he said adding a word of caution that no one in the family, if eligible, could be left unvaccinated. “It could have disastrous consequences,” he said.

With the fresh threat of the Omicron variant, many people have begun to ask whether the vaccines would be effective against the fast spreading mutant. There may be no clear cut answers at the moment. However, no deaths have yet been attributed to the ‘mild VoC’ in India. Moreover, the Government has also started a ‘booster’ as an additional precautionary measure, only bolstered by the huge difference the two doses of vaccine have made to the fatality ratio in the infected.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

Greater Kashmir