Officials in Norway said they’re investigating the deaths of about two dozen elderly patients who received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and are reviewing whether adverse reactions to the vaccine “may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients.”
Reports of adverse reactions with a fatal outcome “suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients,” said Sigurd Hortemo, chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, in a statement on Jan. 18.
An agency spokesperson told CBS News that the “patients died from their underlying disease.” Of 13 cases analyzed so far, “they are people of advanced age, are frail, and have serious illnesses, all of them,” said Camilla Stoltenberg, the director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, according to CBS News.
“It is important to remember that on average, about 45 people die every day at nursing homes in Norway, so it’s not given that this represents any excess mortality or that they are related to the vaccines,” she said.
In its update on Jan. 18, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said that all deaths that occur within days of the vaccination will be investigated.
“We cannot rule out that adverse reactions to the vaccine occurring within the first days following vaccination (such as fever and nausea) may contribute to more serious course and fatal outcome in patients with severe underlying disease,” the statement reads.
“We have now repeated our existing advice not to give the vaccine to terminally ill patients,” a spokeswoman for the agency told the Wall Street Journal.
The spokeswoman attempted to allay fears of links between the deaths and the vaccine, saying that there’s no evidence the shot is unsafe.
On Jan. 14, Norwegian officials changed the country’s CCP virus vaccination guide and said “very frail” people should not receive the shot.
“If you are very frail, you should probably not be vaccinated,” Steinar Madsen at the Norwegian Medicines Agency told reporters last week.
As of Jan. 14, more than 42,000 people in Norway received the CCP virus vaccine. Authorities have reported 23 cases of elderly recipients who were suffering from serious medical conditions dying after receiving the vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech told news outlets on Jan. 18 that the two firms are now “working with the Norwegian Medicines Agency to gather all the relevant information” following the deaths.
“Our immediate thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Pfizer said.
Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland have all reported post-vaccination deaths. Fifty-five people in the United States have died post-vaccination, according to reports that have been filed to a passive system.