No direct cause, says Norway over death of 33 people after Covid-19 vaccination

Chief physician at NMA had said that Norway is vaccinating elderly and people in nursing homes with critical underlying conditions.
Norway’s recommendation doesn’t mean that younger, healthier people should avoid being vaccinated.(Bloomberg | Representational image)
Norway’s recommendation doesn’t mean that younger, healthier people should avoid being vaccinated.(Bloomberg | Representational image)
Updated on Jan 18, 2021 07:20 PM IST
Copy Link | Edited by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Norway has said there is no direct link between the deaths of 33 elderly citizens, who died after being inoculated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), and the vaccine they were given, adding that all of them were already seriously ill. "All of these patients have had serious underlying illnesses. We can’t say that people die from the vaccine. We can say that it may be coincidental. It is difficult to prove that it’s the vaccine which is the direct cause," Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NMA), was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Sigurd Hortemo, the chief physician at the NMA, also said that "reports suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients."

As of Friday, Norway had been using Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine shots. The Pfizer shot is based on the mRNA technology that guides the cells of the host body to fight off the virus. The first Europe-based report on the safety of the Pfizer shot is to come by the end of January.

Also Read | Norway says Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for elderly, terminally sick

Norway has till date vaccinated around 42,000 people with the first dose of the Pfizer shot, especially to those considered at high risk including the elderly.

Hortemo had also said that Norway is vaccinating elderly and people in nursing homes with critical underlying conditions, therefore it is expected that deaths close to the time of inoculation may occur. In Norway, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, NMA added.

NMA and the National Institute of Public Health have been jointly assessing the cases of adverse effects after the vaccine. The Nordic country's medicine agency also emphasised on the evaluation of every person to assess if the benefits of the vaccination outweigh the risk of its adverse effects.

Madsen believed the results won't be any different with the Moderna vaccine too. He said that it is possible that the side effects of the vaccination in some cases, "tip the patients into a more serious course of the underlying disease. We can’t rule that out." However, he added, that almost all nursing home patients have been vaccinated and the deaths account for "one under 1000."

Norway has reported total 58,651 coronavirus cases and 521 deaths till date.

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