Norway adjusts vaccine advice after elderly deaths, but is not alarmed

Norway raises concern over vaccine jabs for the elderly		Posted by Vento on 17th January 2021 in International News

The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Thursday (NZT Friday) reported a total of 29 people had suffered side effects, 13 of them fatal, from the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTec.

"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".

The Institute of Public Health in Norway specified that "for those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences". Thus, "for those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant".

US drugmaker Pfizer, which developed the jab in collaboration with Germany's BioNTech, said it was working to "significantly" scale up production at its plant in Belgium in the second quarter. So far, 29 people have died after the vaccination in Norway and the condition of 75 people remains critical.More than 25,000 people have been vaccinated in the country since the Kovid vaccination campaign started on 27 December past year.

With infections surging past 94 million and more than two million deaths, and Europe among the hardest-hit regions, France and Russian Federation were hoping to shift their vaccination programmes into a higher gear from Monday.

It's reported that the deaths occurred in very frail patients who may have had only weeks or months to live, and further investigation into these deaths will take place, he said.

That is when France, which saw its death toll rise past 70,000 at the weekend, is set to begin inoculating people over 75 and Russian Federation will begin mass vaccinations. This, the Bloomberg report said, is "the most cautious statement yet from a European health authority".

Pfizer and BioNTech reportedly responded to the EMA's concerns in a report dated 26 November, with the review saying that inspections at production sites had begun, and proposing the creation of a 60-percent RNA minimum integrity rate, with one manufacturer saying differences in the amount of RNA "should not affect" the preparation's effectiveness or safety.

At the same time, Norway's health agency said the deaths were an expected outcome of the process.

BioNTech and Pfizer are collaborating with the Norwegian regulator to look into the deaths.

Madsen, quoted in the AP report, said: "Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated".

Twenty-one women and eight men experienced side effects, officials said. All reported deaths were related to "older people with severe basic disorders", he noted.

Side effects and fatalities have been reported in the United Kingdom and the United States as well. "In Norway, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities".