BY SURESH PERERA
Many people who were administered the Indian Covishield Covid-19 vaccine have developed severe side effects, but a senior medical professional assured that there’s nothing to worry as “it shows that with a very high immune response, the jab is working”.
A health worker in Colombo had even fainted not because there was something amiss with the vaccine, but due to what was perceived as Trypanophobia (extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles), he said.
“In my career, I have come across not only patients, but even health workers who have a morbid fear of injections and surgical procedures so much so they tremble at the thought of undergoing the treatment”, he noted.
Side effects and allergic reactions are not confined to the Covishield jab as it’s a common phenomenon even when it comes to penicillin and certain other antibiotics, the medical professional outlined.
He said that the most common side effects amongst people who had received the Covishield vaccine are fever, body aches and pains, cramps and vomiting.
When told about some health workers who had started to tremble after receiving the jab at a hospital in the south, he assured there was no reason to panic as the reaction to the vaccine will gradually taper off as the body gets hold of it.
“These side effects are not fatal at all”, he stressed, adding that older people are more tolerant of the Covid vaccine.
In a scenario where three to four positive cases are found in every 100 persons screened in Colombo, there could be asymptomatic patients or those with antibodies in their system also receiving the jab, the official opined.
With an extensive Covild inoculation drive, the country will be able to move towards herd immunity, which means that when most of the population is immune to an infectious disease, it provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease, he continued.
It’s akin to vaccinating five people and providing protection to the three others sharing a room with them, he noted.
A consultant surgeon who is 60 years old said that he and his family were administered the Covishield vaccine but no side effects were experienced.
He said that there had been instances where certain antibiotic drugs had led to allergic reactions in patients with some fatalities reported.
“It doesn’t play out the same way in most cases and we should weigh the risk versus benefits. Just as much as antibiotics have killed some people, how many millions of lives have the drugs been able to save?”, he asked.
The risk is minimal with medicinal drugs but the advantages are more in terms of treating the sick and saving lives, he emphasized.
He said inoculating the population against the raging virus is the only way out for Sri Lanka as if the pandemic gets out of hand with transmission levels spiraling, the fallout will be devastating not only socially but economically as well.
So far the Covishield jab has proven its worth and the time is opportune to inoculate more and more people to ensure long-term immunity from the deadly contagion, he added.
“This vaccine will help us prevent the further spread of Covid-19 and thereby overcome the threat by ensuring long-term protection from the virus”, he said.
India donated 500,000 doses of the Covishield jab to Sri Lanka, which were administered to front-line health workers and armed services personnel under the initial phase.
Concerns have been raised worldwide over reports that some people have possible allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines. A team of experts who examined the cases reassured that the vaccines can be given safely, even to people with food or medication allergies.
Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India, the manufacturer of Covishield, warned that people severely allergic to any ingredient of Covid-19 vaccine are advised not to take it.
One should not get the Covishield vaccine if there was a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the jab, the Institute said in a factsheet for the vaccine recipient on the website to “help the recipient understand the risks and benefits of the Covishield vaccine”.
The ingredients of Covishield vaccine are “L-Histidine, L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, Magnesium chloride hexahydrate, Polysorbate 80, Ethanol, Sucrose, Sodium chloride, Disodium edetate dihydrate (EDTA), Water for injection”, the Pune-based Serum Institute said.
Media reports quoted the Indian Health Ministry confirming 447 adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines as 224,301 people received the first dose of vaccines in the country as of January 17, 2020.
“Of the 447 Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFIs), three had to be hospitalized, while two of them have now been discharged after 24 hours, one continues to be under observation,” said Manohar Agnani, joint secretary at the Health Ministry.
NHSL narcotics mafia: DG points finger at SLFP union, blames govt. for inaction
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Deputy Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Rukshan Bellana, who had to be rescued by the police recently as an unruly minor staff laid siege to his office and threatened to cause him bodily harm, yesterday (03) alleged that he was under threat subsequent to the exposure of what he called a narcotics mafia operating in government Hospitals.
In a brief interview with The Island the beleaguered President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) found fault with the government for its lethargic response to threats emanating from a trade union affiliated to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Responding to queries, Dr. Bellana alleged that a section of the minor staff was trying to force him out of the National Hospital at the behest of trade union leader Roy de Mel. “Contrary to reports and claims, I’m still here,” Dr. Bellana said, warning the government of dire consequences unless action was taken to discipline National Hospital staff.
Dr. Bellana emphasized that the SLFP trade union, under any circumstances, couldn’t be allowed to dictate terms to the health administration. The outspoken official said that the situation was so bad the National Hospital seemed to be in the hands of ruffians in the garb of trade unionists.
The Island raised Dr. Bellana’s accusations with the SLFP trade union leader De Mel who strongly defended their response to what he described as a wholly unnecessary issue caused by the Deputy Director.
There could be some drug addicts as well as drug pushers among the minor staff of the National Hospital, De Mel said, while referring to the recent reportage of the arrest of a minor female employee carrying heroin with a street value of Rs. 250,000 by the Katunayake police. However, Dr. Bellana for some reason only known to him had repeatedly slandered the entire minor staff, de Mel claimed, challenging the Deputy Director to prove his accusations.
Both Dr. Bellana and De Mel accused the Health Ministry of failing to address the issues at hand. Dr. Bellana said that for want of clear instructions from the Health Ministry, the SLFP union was trying to terrorize him. The official demanded that the ministry initiate a no holds barred investigation into the conduct of the SLFP union.
De Mel said that the Health Ministry owed an explanation as to how Dr. Bellana repeatedly exploited mainstream and social media to propagate his accusations whereas other doctors faced disciplinary measures. Reference was made to cases involving doctors at Kataragama and Karapitiya hospitals.
The trade union leader said that it wouldn’t be fair to declare the entire minor staff of the National Hospital drug addicts on the basis of a few cases or unsubstantiated allegations. De Mel pointed out that there had been cases of security forces and police personnel, including an SSP being arrested with narcotics. But such arrests didn’t justify calling the services and police drug addicts, de Mel said, urging the Health Ministry and law enforcement authorities to investigate Dr. Bellana’s accusations.
“We are ready to face investigations, at any level,” De Mel said, claiming that actually he took up the alleged drug issue among minor staff before Dr. Bellana went public with it. De Mel claimed that he appealed not only to minor staff at the National Hospital but other health sector institutions as well.
Dr. Bellana said that de Mel commanded about 200 minor employees whereas the total strength of National Hospital minor staff was approximately 3,200. The total staff consisted of 11,500 including 1,500 doctors and 3,000 nurses.
Referring to a recent appeal made by Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to police officers not to accept hampers from drug dealers, Dr. Bellana said that he expected law enforcement authorities to restore normalcy at the National Hospital. The police seemed to be hesitant to rein in unruly minor staff against the backdrop of a weary political response, Dr. Bellana said, adding that he briefed Minister Alles of the developing situation.
Dr. Bellana said that workers shouldn’t be allowed to threaten disruption of services. Alleging that some minor staff went to the extent of disrupting surgeries, Dr. Bellana said that the Health Ministry couldn’t turn a blind eye to the developing situation.De Mel claimed Dr. Bellana was practicing what he knows best. “He is causing chaos as he did under previous administrations.”
Seven million Lankans in need of humanitarian assistance:UNICEF
UNICEF has said seven million people in Sri Lanka are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the economic crisis.In its Sri Lanka Humanitarian Situation Report, issued on 02 February, the UN agency said essential services for children such as health, nutrition, and education have been severely impacted by shortages of medicine, food insecurity, lack of fuel and long power cuts.
In 2022, UNICEF reached over 1.3 million people, including 750,000 children with humanitarian assistance through humanitarian interventions.Over 800,000 people in urban areas have access to safe drinking water, 285,403 children in rural and estate areas were provided with educational materials, and 205,000 adolescents benefited from mental health and psychosocial support services in communities and in schools through UNICEF initiatives, the report said.
UNICEF also piloted a humanitarian cash transfers program which reached 3,010 mothers with young children for three months in the Colombo municipal area in 2022.
This is to be further scaled up to reach 110,000 mothers and caregivers in 2023, the report said.It said that in 2022, UNICEF appealed for 25 million U.S. dollars to provide life-saving humanitarian services to nearly 2.8 million Sri Lankans, including 1.7 million children affected by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
UNICEF received USD 34 million, however there is uneven distribution of funding received, it said.
UNICEF said: “Some sectors (Education, WASH and Child Protection) remain significantly underfunded, while others (Nutrition and Social Protection) have received almost triple the asked amount. This situation highlights the need for fresh funding into 2023 particularly for the underfunded sectors. In addition, the generous contribution to the cash-based programming was only made available in the fall.
UNICEF Sri Lanka Country Office launched its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) on 10 June 2022 aligned with the UN inter-agency Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) appeal for Sri Lanka. The HAC has been funded thanks to the generous contributions of bilateral, public, and private donors. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, USAID, the Central Emergency Response Fund, UNICEF USA, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (UK) and Global Thematic Humanitarian Funds and many others for their generous contributions, without which UNICEF could not meet the most pressing needs of woman, children, and most vulnerable populations affected by the worst economic crisis the country has experienced since independence. While the HNP expired in December 2022, the need for continued funding to sustain prevailing humanitarian needs post-HNP is critical.”
Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis passes away
Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis passed away yesterday, while being treated at a private hospital. He was 90. He received his primary education at St. Bendict’s College, Kotahena, and at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He was ordained in 1958 and was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo, in 1968. He was appointed as the Bishop of Anuradhapura and as Archbishop of Colombo in 2002.
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