In an alarming development, Norway on Friday cautioned against fatal side-effects of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as 23 people died in the country after they were administered the first shot. Most of the deceased were reportedly elderly and terminally ill patients.
Following the post-mortem of the deceased, as many as 13 reports suggested common side-effects of the vaccine in the sick patients, said the Norwegian government.
Throwing light on the risk factor of the vaccine, the Norwegian Institute of Public Heath said even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences for those with the most severe frailty, the Bloomberg reported. “For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant,” it said.
Meanwhile, in a recent report, the Norwegian Medicines Agency has said that 21 women and 8 men have shown side effects after the jabs of vaccine were shot in their bodies.
After the shocking development, Pfizer and BioNTech have begun working with the Norwegian regulator to investigate the deaths in Norway, Pfizer said in an e-mailed statement. The agency found that "the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations," Pfizer said.
The agency listed fever and nausea as side effects that may have led to the deaths of some frail patients, Sigurd Hortemo of the Norwegian Medicines Agency said. Besides those who died, the agency said nine had serious side effects without a fatal consequence and seven had less serious side effects.
The nine patients had allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever while the less serious side effects included severe pain at the injection site.
More than 30,000 people have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine in the Scandinavian country since the end of December, according to official figures.
We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients, Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment, he added.
Overall, Norway has seen 57,279 cases and reported 511 deaths.
Across the world, officials expect deaths and other severe side effects to be reported after any mass vaccination campaign given the huge numbers of people involved. But determining whether or not the vaccine caused deaths can be very challenging and requires that all other potential causes be ruled out first.
The United Kingdom and the United States have also reported a number of cases of side effects that had fatal consequences.
The European Medicines Agency said Friday that it will receive and consider monthly safety reports from companies authorized to sell vaccines, starting in January with the Pfizer jab.