As noted last week, the United States seems to be having success with the rollout of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10.3 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of that number, at least 541,000 Americans have been fully vaccinated as of Jan. 12, according to a New York Times survey of all 50 states.
To date, there is zero confirmed death associated with the vaccine. However, it is a different story in Europe. Things don’t seem to be getting any better. As of last week, at least 10 people outside the United States were confirmed dead shortly after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Now, that number is climbing up.
According to a Friday report from the Norwegian authorities, twenty-three people have died in Norway within days of receiving their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, with 13 of those deaths — all nursing home patients — apparently related to the side effects of the shots, Norwegian health officials said.
Dr. Sigurd Hortemo, the chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said in a statement on Friday that common reactions to the vaccine, including fever and nausea, “may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients.”
“23 deaths associated with covid-19 vaccination of which 13 have been assessed. Common adverse reactions may have contributed to a severe course in elderly people who are frail.”
Even though there were no reported deaths in the U.S., the side effects of the vaccine are not limited to Europe. As noted yesterday, the CDC found that 3,150 people had life-threatening reactions after taking the Pfizer vaccine.
“3,150 people vaccinated in one day are “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work” after taking the Pfizer vaccine.”
The CDC said that these people required care from doctors or health care professionals to treat severe allergic reactions.
Meanwhile, in Norway, 13 of the 23 deaths were nursing home patients, and at least 80 years old. So far, more than 30,000 people in Norway have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine in the Scandinavian country since late last month, according to official figures. The health officials did not express serious concern. However, they said they are adjusting their guidance on who should receive the vaccine.
“We are not alarmed by this,” Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients.”
“Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated,” he added. “Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment.”
As of yesterday, 14 January, Norwegian authorities said that “23 reports of suspected deaths have been submitted to the Norwegian ADR health registry.” Meanwhile, a Pfizer spokesperson said the company is “aware of reported deaths” following the administration of the vaccine in Norway and is working with the Norwegian Medicines Agency “to gather all the relevant information.”
“Norwegian authorities have prioritized the immunization of residents in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some which are terminally ill,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “[The Norwegian Medicine Agency confirms] the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations.”
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