Fact-check: Child in Quetta died due to pneumonia not polio vaccine
Updated Tuesday Oct 25 2022
Images shared on social media purport to link a child’s death in Balochistan to the administration of the poliovirus vaccination.
The claim is false.
On September 30, a post circulating on Facebook claimed that polio drops were not safe for children, as a 50-day-old child died in Quetta, Balochistan, after being inoculated.
“It is requested that strict notice be taken of the incompetent and inexperienced polio workers of Pashtun Abad,” the Facebook user wrote, “Ensure strict punishment so that such incidents do not happen in the future.”
The image was shared by multiple accounts on the social networking service.
The child was brought to the Nagi Children Hospital in Quetta on September 28.
“When the child was brought to the hospital she had severe pneumonia,” Dr Agha Hussain, a child specialist at the Hospital, told Geo Fact Check, “She had maybe vomited at home and the contents of the vomit went into the lungs.”
The doctor added that the parents insisted that he write that their child had died due to the poliovirus. “I told them I have been practicing for 30 years, why should I lie?” Dr Hussain said, “No one dies due to polio suddenly.”
The doctor also shared the medical report with Geo Fact Check. In the document the cause of death is clearly stated as “aspiration pneumonia”.
Geo Fact Check then contacted Zahid Shah, the provincial coordinator emergency operations center in Balochistan. Shah also confirmed that the child died from pneumonia.
“There is no connection whatsoever with polio,” the coordinator said, “Countries around the world, who had ended the poliovirus, did it with these very drops.”
Shah then requested people to stop spreading false news about the deadly virus. “Such [false news] has a big impact on the polio [vaccination drive],” he added.
Polio is a disabling and life-threatening disease, which has been eradicated in most of the world except Pakistan and Afghanistan. This year to date, 20 polio cases have been reported in Pakistan, up from just one case reported in 2021.
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