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Picture: Christof STACHE / AFP

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine questions arise with aged care deaths in Norway

The Australian government is following up on reports that the Pfizer-Biotech COVID-19 vaccine has caused side effects among several people who have been administered the vaccine in Norway.

Norwegian authorities have confirmed at least 29 elderly aged care recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine died after taking the jab.

All deaths occured in people over 80 years of age and whom had “serious basic disorders”, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency. And now doctors in the country are being told to “carefully consider who should be vaccinated,” the ABC reports.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency’s medical director Steinar Madsen told a norweigan broadcaster, however, that the authorities are “not alarmed” by the news.

“Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated,” he said.

“Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment.”

Australian authorities are keen to find out more about the deaths as they currently have an order for 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed on Sunday the government was seeking more information on the deaths but said there was no change to its rollout timeframe.

Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy still thinks the vaccine “will be ok”.

“I’m not unduly concerned. We’re trying to get more information about it,” he told the ABC.

“It’s not clear how directly related to the deaths it was. The TGA is looking at this information. The TGA will look at that with its registration.

“We’ve always taken the view that we needed a diversified vaccine tragedy.”

“I still think that the Pfizer vaccine will be OK, but I think we have to wait and see.”

The victims were said to have been “very, very old and frail” at the time they received the vaccination and they died after complications from side-effects, including nausea and fever.

Dr Rob Grenfell, Director of Health and Biosecurity at the CSIRO, said while the deaths may seem “disturbing”, they were normal in phase four study for any drug.

He told Today the reports vindicated Australia’s cautious approach.

“Anyone in an aged care facility is usually very frail and also has multiple illnesses. What needs to be sorted out from these cases is: were these deaths related to, caused by, or have no relation whatsoever to the vaccine that they were given?” he said.

“It may be that there may be one of those three combinations. Our regulator will be sorting through that and may issue warnings to practitioners here in Australia when it’s released.”

Last year Pfizer released results which suggest that the vaccine is 95 per cent effective

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