30 September 2023

False: India’s ‘Health Ministry spokesperson’ did not die of COVID-19 vaccination

Subramanian Swaminathan is the director of Infectious Diseases and Infection Control at Gleneagles Global Hospitals, not a ministry spokesperson. He appeared in multiple interviews after he was vaccinated. The claim appears to originate from a deliberate mistranslation.

An image published on Twitter on June 23 claimed the “spokesperson for Indian Health Ministry,” Subramanian Swaminathan, died on June 16, the day he received COVID-19 vaccination. The same image was also tweeted here.

Both tweets have been retweeted close to 300 times and gained more than 400 likes. The text in Chinese on the image reads:

The spokesperson for Indian Health Ministry announced on April 30 that COVID-19 vaccines were absolutely harmless to humans. He died on June 16, the same day he received vaccination.

The image comes with an added caption that reads, “Tested the toxicity of the vaccine with [his] life!”

The claim is false.

Swaminathan is not a ministry spokesperson. He is the director of Infectious Diseases and Infection Control at Gleneagles Global Hospitals, a network of hospitals in the country.

The circulating image appears to be a screenshot of the YouTube video titled “Centre Confirms First Death After Covid Vaccination In India: Dr Subramanian Swaminathan Exclusive” uploaded by the channel India Today on June 16.

Screenshot of the YouTube video.

It was a news report on the first confirmed death directly linked to COVID-19 vaccination.

Indian government’s National Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) committee classified the death of a 68-year-old man with anaphylaxis following vaccination on March 8 as a result of “vaccine product-related reaction,” the first in India.

News reports on the incident can also be found here and here. The deceased man was inoculated with Covishield, the locally-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

It appears the Chinese text is a deliberate mistranslation. The original English title simply says Swaminathan’s interview is exclusive.

Swaminathan also later appeared in another interview with the Indian Ahead News, the video of which is dated on June 18, two days after his supposed death in the false claim.

Screenshot of Swaminathan’s interview with Indian Ahead News on June 18.

He also appeared in a live Zoom lecture organized by the Indian Medical Association on June 26.

Screenshot of the Zoom lecture on June 26, with Swarnitathan’s face encircled in red.

In another YouTube video in April, Swaminathan said (9:35) he had taken the jab by then.

India recorded the second highest number of COVID-19 cases with more than 29 million, following the United States with 33 million cases. The country suffered from the third most deaths with more than 300,000 to date.