A nurse in Bihar's Saran district was caught administering an injection without the COVID-19 vaccine which led to questions on whether the state government is correctly accounting for vaccinated people. The nurse has been suspended but post the video going viral, several social media users have asked if injecting air into the body could have adverse health impact or even prove to be fatal.
BOOM spoke to a doctor who explained that the side effects of injecting air into the body depends upon the amount of air present in the syringe in lieu of the vaccine. As the COVID-19 vaccine dosage is close to 5 cc, the amount of air will not have severe repercussions but in rare cases, if the air passes from the muscle to the blood vessels, it could create air bubbles.
These air bubbles tend to behave like clots and exhibit symptoms of heart attacks, blockages in the blood supply to the lungs, or the brain. The air inserted instead of the COVID-19 vaccine is in the muscle and very rarely will flow into the blood system leading to serious health consequences.
A Twitter user shared the video wherein a 20-year-old who is waiting for COVID-19 vaccination is given a shot which only contains air but does not contain the COVID-19 vaccine. While Azahar, told Telegraph that he thought he had received the vaccine on June 21, his friend who shot the video, later saw that the nurse only opened a new syringe but never filled it with the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to news reports, the nurse, Chanda Kumari, was suspended with immediate notice and the district officials have launched an inquiry. BOOM contacted both the District Magistrate and Additional District Magistrate, but they were both unavailable for comment.
In the subsequent replies to the tweet, many other users have expressed their concerns about the harmful effects of injecting an empty syringe. One user also tweeted that they hoped that the insertion was in the muscle and not the vein, as an injection in the vein could possibly lead to a heart attack. As Bihar had promised free vaccines in its election manifesto, several users also asked if the state meant free vaccine, or 'vaccine-free'.
What Happens If An Empty Syringe Is Inserted In Your Arm?
To understand the actual effects of empty syringes inserted in the body, BOOM spoke to Dr. Sumit Ray, head of department of critical care, Holy Family Hospital, Delhi.
"In the current context, the dosage is very less to create any harmful side effects, but if by any chance, the nurse inserted the syringe into a vein instead of the muscle, there are chances of air embolism. An air bubble starts behaving like a blood clot," explained Dr. Ray. He also added that the occurrence of air embolism depended on the amount of air present in the empty syringe.
These air bubbles if in the blood stream, block the circulation of blood and could act like possible clots. If they are in the route to the heart, they could cause heart attacks. if present close to the lungs or the brain, they trigger respiratory disorders or strokes.
Dr. Ray asserted that it is very rare for the COVID-19 vaccine syringes to have a high volume of air that could cause any of the serious consequences. He, however, also shared what people could do if they feared that an empty syringe insert could cause any of the potential side effects.
"People should conduct an echocardiograph or a Doppler to ascertain that there are no air bubbles in their circulatory system," concluded Dr. Ray.
In a 2017 study, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, conducted an overview of the air embolism cases witnessed across 25 years. They found close to 67 cases and observed that although fatal, air embolism is very rare. The mortality rate was close to 21 per cent, suggesting that one in five of these patients who suffered from an injection led air embolism died due to its impact.
Updated On: 2021-06-25T21:01:09+05:30