Norway has recorded a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who received their first vaccination against Covid-19, raising questions about which groups should be targeted in national vaccination programs.
The latter number adds six to the number of known deaths in Norway, and also lowers the age group believed to be affected from 80.
As of Friday, Pfizer / BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway, “so all deaths are related to this vaccine,” the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in a written response to Bloomberg on Saturday.
„13 deaths have been evaluated and we are aware of 16 other deaths that are currently being evaluated,“ the agency said. She added that all the reported deaths involved „elderly people suffering from serious underlying disorders.“ „Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea, vomiting, fever, and local reactions at the injection site and a worsening of their underlying condition.“
Norway’s experience has prompted the country to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for the elderly and terminally ill, the most cautious statement yet from a European health authority as countries are assessing realistic side effects of the first shots of consent gained.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health judges that, „For those who are very debilitated, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have severe consequences. For those with a very short residual life anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant.“
Pfizer said in an emailed statement that Pfizer and BioNTech were working with the Norwegian organizer to investigate the deaths in Norway. Pfizer said the agency found that „the number of incidents so far is not alarming and in line with expectations.“
The Norwegian Medicines Agency said: „We are aware that deaths have also been reported in other countries, but we do not have complete details on this yet.“ „There are also differences between countries regarding who the vaccine is prioritized for, and this may also affect the reporting of side effects, including death.“
“The Norwegian Medicines Agency has informed, prior to vaccination, that when vaccinating the oldest and most sickly, deaths are expected to occur in a time-related context with vaccination. This does not mean that there is a causal relationship between vaccination and death. We have also quoted, with regard to the reported deaths, that It is possible that the common and known side effects of vaccines could be a factor contributing to a dangerous course or a fatal outcome, ”the agency said.
Norway’s recommendation does not mean that younger, healthier people should avoid vaccination. But it is an early indication of what to watch as countries start issuing vaccine safety monitoring reports. Emer Cooke, the new head of the European Medicines Agency, said tracking the safety of Covid vaccines, especially those that rely on new technologies like messenger RNA, will be one of the biggest challenges once the footage is released widely.
„Organizátor. Spisovateľ. Zlý kávičkár. Evanjelista všeobecného jedla. Celoživotný fanúšik piva. Podnikateľ.“