'No cover-up' of inoculated man's death

Top News | Jane Cheung 4 Mar 2021

The Hospital Authority has denied covering up the death of a chronically ill man who was inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, even though it only reported the suspected adverse incident to the government two days after the fact.

The patient, 63, with diabetes, chronic bronchitis and hypertension, sought urgent treatment for acute shortness of breath at Queen Elizabeth Hospital's accident and emergency department at 1.30am on Sunday.

He told medics he received Sinovac's CoronaVac jab two days before - on Friday - the authority's chief manager for quality and standards, Lau Ka-hin, said on a radio program yesterday.

The man was admitted to a medical ward at 3am, but his condition took a turn for the worse and he required resuscitation by another team of medics that was unaware of the man's vaccine history. He died at 6am.

"When our colleagues in the medical ward conducted resuscitation, they reviewed the patient's medical history, symptoms and blood reports," Lau said, adding they also contacted the patient's family.

Lau admitted medics did not look at the patient's vaccination record as "their top priority was to save his life."

He said medics only spotted his vaccine history while reviewing his medical documents on Tuesday - two days after his death.

"After that, colleagues immediately reported the incident to the Hospital Authority headquarters and the Department of Health, as well as disclosing it to the public," Lau said.

The hospital's deputy chief executive for professional services, Johnny Chan Wai-man, said yesterday that during the resuscitation, medics did not notice any allergic or uncommon reactions from the man.

"In terms of clinical diagnosis, as well as what was shown by X-rays, his condition was considered to be caused by his chronic bronchitis," Chan said.

"So the entire resuscitation procedure was focused on that."

Lau said the delay in announcing the man's death was not a cover-up, but admitted the internal reporting system could be improved for better interdepartmental communication in hospitals.

Assistant director of health Frank Chan Ling-fung said if an adverse reaction event linked to the vaccine is reported, the department will trace the brand and batch of the jab and follow up the patient's clinical situation, as well as pass the case to the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment Following Covid-19 Immunization.

If the man's death is found to be caused by the vaccine, his family will receive HK$2 million in compensation from the HK$1 billion indemnity fund passed in the Legislative Council's finance committee on Friday.

This increases to HK$2.5 million if the person who died was under 40.

The highest amount - HK$3 million - will go to a person aged under 40 who died after suffering from rare and serious health consequences.

Someone in the same situation - but above 40 years old - would get HK$2.5 million.


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