Norwegian Medicines Agency, the country’s medical regulatory authority, has announced a series of deaths among people who had been inoculated with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. The country started vaccinating people in late December and over 25,000 citizens have been inoculated so far, with many admitting to having experienced some side effects. Of the reported 29 deaths, only 13 have been evaluated comprehensively.
“There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed… Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition,” the agency stated.
Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency, noted that some of the patients experienced severe side effects that pushed a very serious illness to become even more threatening, and sometimes leading to death. All deaths occurred among people who were frail and over 80 years of age. The word “frail,” in this context, refers to those who suffered from serious diseases like dementia, advanced heart conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary, and so on.
Madsen stressed that Pfizer vaccines have a low risk, and thousands of frail people who received the vaccine did not die. However, the Norwegian Medicines Agency and the country’s National Institute of Public Health have changed their guidelines for the vaccine with Madsen, warning that people who are considered weak “should probably not be vaccinated.”
Pfizer’s vaccines are reported to have an efficacy rate of 95 percent. A trial of the vaccine on 43,500 volunteers resulted in few side effects, such as “severe hangover,” and some pain at the injection site. Patricia Stinchfield of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota noted that such side effects are immune responses that people should expect to feel.
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In the United States, officials administered 1.9 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the public between Dec. 14 and 23, registering only 21 cases of severe allergic reaction. In Europe, the first region-wide safety report on the Pfizer vaccine will only be out by the end of this month.
China is slamming Western media for its silence on the death of 29 Norwegians while hyping up any unfavorable information on Chinese vaccines. Recently, China’s CoronaVac vaccine was reported to have an efficacy rate of only 50.4 percent, barely over the 50 percent level needed to get the vaccine approved.
China’s state-backed media downplayed the report, quoting a Chinese expert that the vaccine is “good enough.” Chinese employees in Angola have reportedly been infected with the novel coronavirus despite the fact that they were inoculated with China’s Sinopharm vaccine before leaving their homeland.
The Norwegian deaths have raised concerns in Australia where they have put in an order for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has sought more details on the issue. However, he admitted that the vaccine rollout will continue as scheduled with priority groups getting vaccinated starting February. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has downplayed the concerns.
“The deaths were associated with fever, nausea, and diarrhea, which are relatively common short-lived effects that a number of people experience after vaccination… It is not expected that these common adverse reactions following immunization will be of significance in the vast majority of individuals vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine,” a TGA spokesperson said in a statement. However, the department revealed that it is considering including warnings for people with terminal illnesses and the elderly who are of a weak disposition.