Updated: February 1, 2021 10:53:29 pm
The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) that came under fire after a 30-year-old sanitation worker form Ward 9 of the civic body died within hours of taking the Covishield vaccine on Sunday, has offered employment to his wife as part of the compensation package.
On Monday, following assurances from officials and counselling by the local police, the family of deceased worker, Jignesh Solanki, allowed a panel autopsy to be held at the SSG Hospital, the report of which says “cardiac arrest” as the preliminary cause of death. Solanki is survived by wife Divya and two daughters — aged 5 years and eight months.
Late on Sunday, the VMC released a report of the Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee (AEFIC), which concluded that the death did not occur due to the Covishield vaccine but due to a pre-existing heart ailment Solanki suffered since 2016.
His family allowed the postmortem to be held early Monday, even as political leaders joined them in an agitation outside the postmortem department of SSG with relatives of Solanki demanding an employment and monetary compensation for his family.
Dr Ranjan Aiyer, Medical Superintendent of SSG hospital told this newspaper that Solanki’s viscera samples have been sent for toxicological investigation.
“It includes sample tissues of lungs, kidney, gastric contents to check for poisoning… and some intestinal contents. A part of his heart has also been sent for forensic histopathological investigation. One of the doctors on the panel that did the postmortem said that his heart appeared to be bulky — weighing 418 grams — and it was suspected to be a cardiac event arising due to low supply of blood and oxygen that resulted in his death,” said Dr Aiyer.
The VMC said in a statement that it would await the forensic laboratory report.
Around noon, as the family refused to accept Solanki’s body until their demands were met, VMC Commissioner P Swaroop came to the hospital, offered condolences to the family and discussed the compensation. After the meeting that lasted a couple of hours, Divya was offered a job and the VMC promised to explore options for more compensation for the family.
Swaroop told The Indian Express, “Solanki was a permanent employee of the VMC for the past three years and as per the rule, we offered employment to his legal heir… His wife has orally agreed to accept the offer. We have also assured them that the gratuity sum of above Rs 2.5 lakh that belongs to Solanki will be released in a couple of days. I personally met the family and explained to them the situation, which they understood. We are also exploring the possibility of the State Government Safai Kamdaar Corporation having any specific schemes under which we can extend more benefits to the family but for now, we are offering employment to Divya and gratuity.”
Political and community leaders backing the family demanded more compensation for the family in the form of waiver of a home loan in a government housing scheme as well as cash benefits to the two minor daughters, but Swaroop denied that any other aspect was considered.
Swaroop confirmed that the primary report of the autopsy indicated cardiac arrest as the cause of death, in line with the AEFIC report, which stated that Solanki had undergone coronary angiography that reported unstable angina — a condition where the heart does not receive enough blood flow and oxygen. The report had concluded that Solanki was not following the medical advice or diet control recommended to him.
Solanki’s wife Divya alleged that the VMC officials ill-advised Solanki to take the vaccination. “They just wanted the numbers of persons on the recipient list and pushed the entire staff to the vaccination centre. He had told me he has to go because the rest of his colleagues and bosses were going to take it. Why didn’t anyone find out details of his health condition if it’s so important right now,” she asked.
When asked if medical history of vaccine recipients was being considered, VMC medical officer for health, Dr Devesh Patel, said, “We have counselled the recipients and it is not mandatory to take the vaccine. The decision is voluntary and just because a head of department is taking it, it doesn’t mean it is compulsory for all.”
He said at the vaccination centres, medical history of the beneficiaries are checked. “We ask about recent illness and also consumption of alcohol… But if someone withholds information, nothing can be done. We have counselled all recipients and even the half-and-hour of observation following the vaccine is used for making them aware about the side-effects they would see.”
Patel added no adverse effects were reported in people with heart ailments following the Covid-19 vaccine. “There is no contra indication. We have followed the guidelines… Even one case of death due to other reasons does not mean the vaccine is unsafe for people with heart conditions..,” Patel said.
Solanki, who took the Covishield vaccine at around 10.35 am on Sunday, died at home around 1.30 pm after he went into a seizure and collapsed, his family said. Health officials said his vitals were not recordable to the emergency response team that first attended to him at his residence.
The VMC release stated that in the 149 sites of Covishield vaccination since January 16, 17,400 persons were vaccinated so far, of which 13,689 are health workers (4,199 government health workers and 9,490 private health workers). A total of 3,711 frontline workers have been administered the the jab so far with rate of vaccination at 107.92%.
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