Norway Warns Against Vaccinating the Terminally Ill
By Bojan Pancevski
The Norwegian drug agency on Monday warned medical authorities
in the country not to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to
terminally-ill patients because a small number of elderly people
had died shortly after receiving the shot in recent days.
Norway is unrolling the vaccine developed by BioNTech SE and
Pfizer Inc. and authorities have reported 23 cases of elderly
recipients suffering from serious medical conditions dying days
after being inoculated.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency, which regulates drugs, examined
13 of the cases, with an average age of 86, and said that six of
the people had been terminally ill from various conditions before
their vaccination. In addition, 11 suffered from dementia and
serious comorbidities such as heart disease.
"We have now repeated our existing advice not to give the
vaccine to terminally ill patients," a spokeswoman for the agency
said. The spokeswoman added that there was no evidence the vaccine
was in any way unsafe and authorities didn't have any concerns
about its use.
The agency said Norway's vaccination campaign, like many others
around the world, had been giving priority to elderly people in
nursing homes, some of whom have serious underlying diseases, and
it was therefore expected that deaths might occur close to the time
In Norway, an average of 400 people die each week in nursing
homes and long-term care facilities, according to the agency.
"An evaluation should be carried out for each patient as to
whether the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of eventual
side effects," the agency said. "We cannot rule out that adverse
reactions to the vaccine occurring within the first days following
vaccination (such as fever and nausea) may contribute to more
serious courses and fatal outcomes in patients with severe
Deaths among recently vaccinated people aren't unusual because
many countries gave priority to the oldest and therefore most frail
citizens and residents of care homes, said a spokeswoman for
BioNTech. In Germany, some of the initial recipients of the vaccine
were age 100 or older.
Representatives for Pfizer didn't immediately respond to a
request for comment.
On Monday, Germany's health minister Jens Spahn told reporters
that the country's medicines regulator had looked into the issue of
deaths occurring close to vaccination in cooperation with their
Norwegian counterparts but that they had so far not found any
reason to reconsider existing procedures.
A spokeswoman for Germany's vaccines regulator, the Paul Ehrlich
Institute, said that deaths among the elderly following vaccination
were expected statistically because, of the 12,000 people who die
in the European Union every day, 83% are over 65 years old.
Write to Bojan Pancevski at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 18, 2021 13:00 ET (18:00 GMT)
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