Health authorities in Portugal are investigating the sudden death of a pediatric surgery assistant in Porto, who was reportedly in “perfect health” when she received the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus.
Identified on Monday as Sonia Azevedo, 41, the mother of two worked as a surgical assistant at the Instituto Portugues de Oncologia (IPO), an oncology hospital in Porto. She was among the 538 healthcare workers at IPO who received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Wednesday. Azevedo had dinner with her family on New Year’s Eve, and was found dead in bed the following morning.
“I want to know what caused my daughter’s death” her father Abilio told the Portuguese tabloid Orreio da Manha. He described her as a “well and happy” person who “never drank alcohol, didn’t eat anything special or out of the ordinary.”
Azevedo was so proud to be among the first to receive the vaccine, she changed her Facebook profile picture to reflect that. “Covid-19 vaccinated,” she wrote under a selfie with her face mask on.
“We don’t know what happened. It all happened quickly and with no explanation,” Azevedo’s daughter Vania Figueiredo told the paper. “I didn’t notice anything different in my mother. She was fine. She just said that the area where she had been vaccinated hurt, but that’s normal…”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the novel coronavirus is the only one so far to be given emergency-use authorization by the World Health Organization, clearing the way for its widespread use by UN agencies and other transnational health bodies.
The IPO issued a statement confirming Azevedo’s death and expressing “sincere condolences” to her family and friends.
“The explanation of the cause of death will follow the usual procedures in these circumstances,” the hospital added. Azevedo’s autopsy was scheduled for Monday.
Portugal, which has a population of around 10 million, has so far reported more than 427,000 cases and over 7,100 deaths attributed to Covid-19.