Norway's health authorities have announced there is no evidence showing a direct link for the deaths of several ill, elderly people to the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine they received, Bloomberg reported.
The medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, Steinar Madsen, added that a connection between the vaccine and the deaths is difficult to prove.
He said, "Clearly, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination. We are not alarmed."
33 people who were extremely sick died after receiving the vaccine
The agency further stated that 33 people who were extremely sick, and over the age of 75 have died following their inoculation.
A press release by the agency explained:
"In Norway we are now vaccinating the elderly and people in nursing homes with serious underlying diseases, therefore it is expected that deaths close to the time vaccination may occur. In Norway, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities."
A similar note was struck by the head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Camiila Stoltenberg, who said that an average of 45 people die on a daily basis in nursing homes, which means it is not a given that these 33 deaths are excess mortality, or that there is a causal connection.
The agency's chief physician, Sigurd Hortemo, added that common adverse reactions such as fever and nausea may contribute to a more serious outcome in patients who are frail, with severe underlying diseases.
Consequently, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has advised that an evaluation should be carried out for each patient to determine whether benefits of receiving the vaccine outweighs the risks of the side-effects.
Norway previously voiced its concern over the vaccine's safety for the frail elderly
Previously, Norway had expressed its concern about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for elderly people with underlying health conditions, after the death of 29 people.
At that time, the agency highlighted in its press release that the large studies on the vaccine did not include patients with unstable or acute illnesses, and included few participants over 85 years of age.
The agency also previously said it was possible that adverse reactions to the vaccine, such as fever and nausea, could contribute to a "fatal outcome" for patients who already had severe underlying diseases.
Both Pfizer and BioNTech have said that they will work with Norwegian health authorities to investigate the deaths.
U.S. CDC adviser: Vaccinating frail elderly people has a chance of lowering trust in the vaccine
Separately, an adviser to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Keipp Talbot, pointed out, "Frail, older adults die, and die often, and I don’t think people realise that."
She highlighted that by introducing the vaccine to such a group, people might think it kills the elderly, and thereby lowering trust in the vaccine.
As such, others around such people should be inoculated first, she added.
The associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University was the only member of the CDC advisory panel to advise against offering the vaccine to the elderly in nursing homes.
In addition, to determine how many people how die after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, the comparison should be made with the number of people who usually die in a nursing home, she said.
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