Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic announced on Wednesday that it was “highly unlikely” that there was a link between the death of a 91-year-old person in the canton of Lucerne and the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Clarifications carried out by the cantonal health authorities and Swissmedic determined that as a result of the illness history and the course of disease that a link between the death and the COVID-19 vaccine was highly unlikely,” the regulator said in a statement, adding that the deceased individual suffered from multiple previous illnesses.
No information was provided as to the time that had elapsed between the administration of the vaccine and the death of the individual concerned.
The first vaccinations against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the pathogen that causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness, began in Switzerland last week. The only COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Switzerland is the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has received approval for emergency use in the United States and Britain, and has conditional marketing approval in the European Union.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 11 issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in people aged 16 years and older, noting that “the vaccine was safe and highly effective in a randomized controlled clinical trial that included 43,252 participants.”
Pfizer responded to the death of the vaccine recipient, expressing condolences to the family of the deceased.
“It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine, are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population of elderly and at-risk individuals who are currently being prioritized for vaccination,” the company said, according to Reuters.
Pfizer on Tuesday announced it will supply an additional 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the 27 European Union member states in 2021.
“We remain committed to moving as quickly and safely as possible to bring this vaccine to more people in Europe, as the deadly virus continues to spread at an alarming rate,” Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer, said in a statement. “In partnership with the European Commission, member states and healthcare providers, we will be able to reach a total of 150 million Europeans across the continent.”
Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered worldwide, with a small number of people suffering allergic reactions following the shots. Anyone who experiences a severe allergic reaction after getting the first vaccine should not get the second shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 vaccines are meant to be given in two doses, about three weeks apart.
Trump administration officials had said they projected 20 million people would get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year. According to the CDC, more than 11.4 million doses have been distributed in the U.S. as of Dec. 28, but just 2.1 million have been administered.
President Donald Trump urged states to hurry in administering the vaccine.
“The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!” Trump said in a tweet.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said Tuesday that a “significant portion” of COVID-19 vaccines might still be sitting on hospital shelves rather than being administered to vulnerable Texans, adding that the decision to get inoculated is “always voluntary.”
Reuters contributed to this report.