Oslo: 23 people have died shortly after receiving their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the country, Norwegian officials have said. The vaccine may be too risky for very old and terminally ill patients, they added.
Norwegian Medicines Agency after studying 13 of the autopsies that were available of the 23 deaths concluded that common side effects led to severe reactions in very old and frail patients.
“For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences…For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.
Reacting to the news, Pfizer has said in an emailed statement that “the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations.” It will also be investigating the incidents in Norway along with regulators in the country.
There have been reports of severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine but they are also very uncommon, with an incidence rate of 11.1 cases per million vaccinated, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had shown an efficacy rate of 95% in Phase-3 clinical trials but the average age of trial participants was in their early 50s. However, trial participants did include people in their late 80s and 90s.
Norwegian officials have also said that the incidents should not deter young and healthy people from getting the shots.