On Thursday, 27-year-old nurse Megi Bakradze received her first jab of the coronavirus vaccine. Despite never displaying an allergic reaction to other injections, such as her regular flu shot, Bakradze developed an anaphylactic reaction. A day later, the nurse from the small city of Akhaltsikhe died.
In an interview immediately after receiving the jab, but before falling into shock, Bakradze told local station TV9 that vaccination is “necessary.”
Georgia received its first 43,200 doses of the vaccine last Saturday, and some worry that this latest story will jeopardize its rollout, which has only just begun. After Bakradze fell ill, the country’s Ministry of Health revealed that it would not be suspending the use of the British-Swedish developed formula.
It has more benefits than risks, which gives no country any reason to refuse to use it,” Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said. “Based on this, the council decided that the vaccination process for AstraZeneca will continue unhindered.”
The ministry also noted that three other medics had side effects after inoculation, but all recovered quickly.
Anaphylaxis can occur as a bodily response to almost any foreign substance, such as a bee sting. It is the result of the immune system overreacting to a trigger, typically something that the person is allergic to. While very rare, well-used and highly trusted vaccines for other illnesses are also known to cause this reaction.
Despite assurances from AstraZeneca and the World Health Organization, there have been fears across Europe that the jab may have deadly side effects. Earlier this week, thirteen countries, including Germany and France, suspended using the vaccine following deaths due to blood clots. However, after an additional review from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), many of these countries will resume their inoculation program.
On Thursday, as a show of confidence in the vaccine, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili received her first jab live on TV. Health officials have also asked the Georgian Church to help out, requesting that the country’s “most trusted institution” encourage its followers to get inoculated.