A 66-year-old woman who died after getting her first BioNTech coronavirus jab has become the first post-vaccination fatality to be granted a payout from a Hong Kong government indemnity fund set up to compensate those who suffered from complications after getting a COVID-19 shot.
Official documents show that an expert committee, set up under the Department of Health, concluded the causal relationship between the woman’s death and the vaccination to be “indeterminate” but, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the fund, a death payout of HK$2 million (US$254,800) has still been granted.
The woman received her first BioNTech jab in July last year and died 16 days later.
The autopsy findings confirmed she died from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which is a side effect that has been reported by some people across the world after getting the vaccine. Examinations also found that she had been suffering from pneumonia, which was a significant factor contributing to her death.
An earlier report noted that parvovirus DNA was also found in her heart tissue. Parvovirus infections are also known to be a cause of myocarditis, so the expert committee said it was not possible to establish a causal relationship between the myocarditis and vaccination. However, even if such a relationship cannot be established, the rules of the fund allow for payouts in the event a causal link cannot be ruled out.
As of April 23, 2022, about 15.80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Hong Kong, The indemnity fund has received 843 applications, including 31 for death and 812 for injury.
The expert committee has completed causality assessments for 551 of those cases. Out of those, 328 cases were concluded to be “consistent with casual association with immunization” or “indeterminate” and 223 cases were concluded to be “inconsistent with causal association with immunization” or “unclassifiable”.
Payouts worth HK$31,510,000 (US$4,014,100) have been handed out in 241 of the injury cases, including those who suffered from symptoms such as myocarditis, anaphylaxis – a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, and Bell’s palsy – a temporary weakness or lack of movement affecting one side of the face.