The Norwegian health authorities have already cautioned that very old or terminally ill people should consider it “risky” to take the jab.
Several deaths have been reported in Norway post taking Covid-19 vaccination jabs. (Representative Image, AP)
Norway witnessed 29 deaths till Saturday following administration of Pfizer vaccine against the novel coronavirus. On Saturday, six more deaths happened after the vaccination and this time the age of the deceased lowered from 80 to 75, multiple reports said. Since Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate was the only vaccine being administered to the people in Norway till Friday, all deaths, if at all there is a link between them, are associated with this vaccine only, said the Norwegian Medicines Agency. Deaths in all the 13 cases assessed so far are in the “elderly people” with other serious health conditions, The Indian Express reported, quoting a Bloomberg report.
The Norwegian authorities, however, are not worried about the deaths yet. Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK explained the deaths saying that the risks involved in taking the vaccine is “little” and a small exception occurs only with “frailest patients.”
The Norwegian health authorities have already cautioned that very old or terminally ill people should consider it “risky” to take the jab. They, however, have left it to the doctor’s discretion to make their decision on who should be administered the dose. This is a European health authority’s most cautious statement so far on the country inoculation drive, said the Bloomberg report.
The report further stated that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on the assessment of the cases finds that for the individuals with most delicate health, even a mild dose of the vaccine can have serious consequences. So for people with short remaining life span, the benefits of the vaccine are ‘marginal or irrelevant.’
Hence the health authorities have suggested that doctors administering vaccine shots should carefully consider the health conditions of the person before administering dose and the frailest individuals should have a medical assessment before taking the jab.
Were these issues unanticipated?
No, the problems were not unanticipated. In fact, in mass vaccination drives, adverse effect leading to serious side effects or deaths is expected in some cases.
What needs to be found is if the vaccine is solely responsible for causing the deaths. Determining this can be time taking and complicated as each case needs to examined and all other factors that can lead to death have to be eliminated first.
Norwegian Medicines Agency said that it has communicated before the vaccination drive started that deaths will happen in a time-related manner but that does not mean there is a link between deaths and the vaccine shot. However, it is also possible that the side effects of the vaccine can be a reason for fatal outcomes.
Not just in Norway, fatalities and side effects among numerous recipients were reported in the UK and the US as well.
In India after completing vaccinations on the second day, the Union Health Ministry report said the adverse event was reported in 447 cases that is less than 0.2 per cent of the total people vaccinated. Only three beneficiaries required hospitalisation. Severe adverse effects and two were discharged in some hours after symptoms subsided, the Ministry informed.
What is Pfizer-BioNTech doing about the matter in Norway?
The vaccine maker is investigating the deaths in collaboration with the Norwegian regulator. According to the Bloomberg report, as reported by The Indian Express, Pfizer and the Norwegian authorities is not much concerned about death as the number is in line with their expectations.
Pfizer is also investigating the death of 56-year-old physician in Florida, in the US who died two weeks after receiving the first shot. Pfizer, however, claimed that the death did not have any distinct connection with vaccine, reported The New York Times.
The European regulator, on the other hand, said that it will assess safety reports submitted by all vaccine candidates authorised to supply vaccines to the countries with the European Union every month and Pfizer’s report will also be scrutinized again later this month