The number of people above 75 with serious underlying health conditions who died after taking vaccines for the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease in Norway went up to 29 on Saturday. The Scandinavian country, which has inoculated more than 25,000 people since the vaccination drive began on December 27 last year, has confirmed the deaths.
Earlier, the age group thought to be in the danger zone was above 80, but the fresh six deaths on Saturday further lowered it to 75 and also raised questions over which groups to target in national inoculation programme.
Here is what we know so far:
- The Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech is the only one available in Norway and all deaths are seen to be linked with it, according to Norwegian Medicines Agency (NMA).
- The NMA wrote to news agency Bloomberg and confirmed that while most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, 13 deaths have been assessed and another 16 are being looked at for having been caused due to it. "There are 13 deaths that have been assessed, and we are aware of another 16 deaths that are currently being assessed," the agency said, adding that all the reported deaths related to "elderly people with serious basic disorders".
- The side effects being seen in most people are nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition. According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), the vaccine could have marginal or no benefit for those who have a very short remaining life span anyway. For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences, it added.
- Pfizer has said it is investigating the deaths along with BioNTech and the NIPH and the agency has found that "the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations."
- Norway, however, has not said that younger, healthier people should avoid being vaccinated.