A well known Bollywood star has passed away only two days after taking India’s coronavirus vaccine during a public relations stunt to promote vaccine acceptance. Officials vehemently deny the vaccine played a part in his death.
59-year-old Vivek, a long time Bollywood actor, social influencer, and comedian took India’s homegrown Covaxin inactivated virus vaccine live on television on April 15 in order to do his part to condition the public for vaccine acceptance.
Vivek, who was declared the “health ambassador” for the state of Tamil Nadu by Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan the same day as part of the vaccine acceptance promotion, was taken to hospital in cardiac arrest the next morning. He died shortly afterwards.
After taking the injection, Vivek told the public “The medical way to protect ourselves is this vaccine. You might be taking Siddha medicines, Ayurvedic medicines, Vitamin-C, Zinc tablets etc. This is all fine. But these are added measures.”
“The vaccine is the only thing that can save your life. If you ask me if people who are vaccinated don’t get COVID-19, it is not like that. Even if COVID-19 hits you, there won’t be death.”
Website GreatGameIndia reported Vivek, “was brought in unconscious at 11 am, was resuscitated, subsequently underwent coronary angiogram and then angioplasty…Medical bulletin said he was critical on ECMO support, which pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body, but died at 4:35 am today [April 17].”
The site says the Chennai hospital, who cared for the deceased Vivek, said he “suffered an acute coronary syndrome with cardiogenic shock. There was 100 percent blockage in a vessel and his cardiac arrest may not be due to the vaccination.”
Radhakrishnan immediately denied Vivek’s death had anything to do with the vaccine in a press conference, “There is no direct link between COVID-19 vaccine and his 100% block. We even conducted a test on him today (Friday) and it returned negative. Even his CT scan did not show any symptoms of COVID-19.”
In the same press conference, the Health Secretary said national health guidance advocates for people suffering from comorbidities, or multiple pre-existing conditions, to take the injection, “The guidelines by the Union government says people with certain comorbidities should get vaccinated and this includes cardiac problems.”
“The High Court has also urged people with comorbidities to come forward to vaccinate themselves, including those who have undergone organ transplantation.”
Radhakrishnan said the only segments advised to not take the injection are pregnant and lactating women and children under 18.
After Vivek’s death, Chennai’s Commissioner G Prakash threatened the public with punishment under the Public Health Act and surveillance with the “city’s cybercrime cell” if they were found “spreading rumors and gossips,” in verbiage very similar to the Chinese Communist Party’s notion of “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” used to justify the imprisonment and torture of Wuhan whistleblower citizen journalist Zhang Zhan.
“Actor Vivek was the brand ambassador for many of our events and always supported [the] government’s initiatives. His last message was in fact about how people should get vaccinated. To respect and honour the man, we should only spread his message and not rumors,” Prakash said to India Times.
“Action will be taken against those spreading rumors and gossips. We have already informed the state health department and the city’s police department about this.”
Despite health and government officials’ ardent insistence Vivek’s death was completely coincidental, The Federal spoke with several citizens in India and found the influencer’s death had cemented vaccine hesitancy, “We are afraid to take the vaccine after the death of actor Vivekh. What if something happens to us as it happened to him,” said a village woman named Rani.
“We were fine and are fine so far. Nothing happened to us in the last year. So we are not willing to take risks with the vaccine.”
A supervisor in charge of an Indian employment insurance office said they had arranged to inject 80 “eligible beneficiaries” on April 18, but after Vivek passed away, most of those scheduled to receive the injection did not show up, “Many told us they would not take the vaccine as rumours spread about linking his death to the vaccine,” said the supervisor.
“People ask us for a surety that nothing would happen to them and we shall be held responsible if something happens to them post-vaccination.”
Times of India found “heart attacks and brain strokes have been the two main causes of hospitalization and death for COVID-19 vaccine recipients” in a March 26 article analyzing a group of 79 post-vaccination fatalities. Researchers found 50 percent suffered either a heart attack or a stroke.