Covid vaccines didn’t cause sudden deaths in young adults: ICMR study | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Covid vaccines didn’t cause sudden deaths in young adults: ICMR study

Nov 22, 2023 07:33 AM IST

The study said that the spate of such sudden deaths can be attributed to past-Covid hospitalisation, binge drinking, and intense unaccustomed activity.

New Delhi: Covid-19 vaccines did not increase the risk of sudden death among young adults in India, according to an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study, which added that the spate of sudden deaths reported post Covid among young adults in India can be attributed to past-Covid hospitalisation, family history of sudden deaths, binge drinking, and intense unaccustomed activity.

The study by ICMR said that the vaccines, in fact, may have prevented more sudden deaths. (PTI)
The study by ICMR said that the vaccines, in fact, may have prevented more sudden deaths. (PTI)

The peer-reviewed study titled ‘Factors associated with unexplained sudden deaths among adults aged 18-45 years in India – a multicentric matched case-control study’ involved the participation of 47 tertiary care hospitals across the country. The results have been published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. Anecdotal reports of deaths in among people – including some famous ones – had given rise to a narrative that vaccines were somehow responsible.

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“These deaths raised concerns that these cases might be related to Covid-19 infection, or Covid vaccination. The study was conducted to investigate the contributing factors,” said ICMR in a statement.

Seven hundred twenty nine cases and 2,916 others (the control group) were included in the analysis. Cases were hospitalised individuals aged 18-45 years without any known co-morbidity, who suddenly – within 24 hours of hospitalization – died of unexplained causes between October 2021 and March 2023.

“Most sudden deaths were due to cardiac reasons, but may not have been the result of a cardiac arrest, which is why we called them sudden deaths. There were two groups, cases and control — data for cases was taken from hospitals and for control we went within the community looking for healthy individuals. Covid vaccination was not found to be the contributing factor for sudden deaths; if at all, vaccination may have actually prevented deaths. There are likely other contributing factors that have been duly listed in the paper,” said Manoj Murhekar, director, ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, and corresponding author of the study.

READ | Covid vaccines used in India and risk of heart attack are not related: Study

The researchers conducted interviews to collect data on Covid-19 vaccination, infection and post-Covid-19 conditions, family history of sudden death, smoking, recreational drug use, frequency of alcohol consumption, and vigorous-intensity physical activity two days before death. The study found that many of these “were positively associated with unexplained sudden death.”

“... the more the frequency of alcohol use, the higher was the odds for unexplained sudden death,” it added.

Indeed, the vaccines may have prevented more sudden deaths.

“Two (vaccine) doses lowered the odds of unexplained sudden death, whereas a single dose did not,” the study found.

The pathways through which Covid-19 may cause sudden deaths are currently not well-understood, the ICMR study noted.

However, the study admitted that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Sars-CoV-2) infection increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, although it said there wasn’t enough data on “sudden deaths” even in these instances.

“Although there is some evidence for the increased risk of death among Covid-19-recovered individuals and among those with breakthrough infections, the evidence for sudden deaths among such individuals is scarce.”

“People have been unnecessarily, and without adequate proof, blaming Covid vaccines for these sudden deaths. There is already enough evidence to establish vaccines, in fact, prevent Covid patients from developing severe disease; therefore prevent death. There is a possibility of sudden death if one suddenly starts doing excessive exercise, especially those above 30 persons who have been leading a sedentary life. It may rupture an atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries, resulting in heart attack,” said Dr KK Talwar, former head of cardiology department, AIIMS-Delhi.

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