Pfizer working with Norwegian health authorities on deaths allegedly related to COVID-19 vaccine

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) – American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer assured they are working with health authorities in Norway to find out if the deaths there are really related to their COVID-19 vaccine.

“Pfizer and BioNtech are aware of reported deaths following administration of BNT162b2,” Pfizer said in a statement exclusively obtained by CNN Philippines.

The American drug maker added they are closely collaborating with the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA) to gather all relevant information on the deaths of 23 elderly people in a nursing home, which occurred after getting inoculated with their manufactured COVID-19 vaccine.

“NOMA confirms the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations. All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by NOMA to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine,” the company said.

Pfizer also sent its condolences to the families of the 23 fatalities.

Following the deaths, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health updated its COVID-19 vaccination guide with more detailed advice on inoculating elderly people who are frail or terminally ill. The new guidance says doctors should evaluate each individual patient to determine whether the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of any potential side effects.

Of the 23 deaths, 13 have so far been assessed by the Norwegian Medicines Agency and the National Institute of Public Health, the Institute said in a statement on Friday.

The Norway elderly people deaths raised safety concerns on the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine, which generated a 95% efficacy rate in its Phase 3 clinical trials that is the highest among the vaccines produced worldwide.

Some countries like the United States and United Kingdom granted emergency use authorization to administer COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer among their citizens.

The Philippines granted an EUA to Pfizer last week, the first vaccine brand to get the authorization in the country. Following reports of the deaths in Norway allegedly due to its vaccine, Health Department spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said Pfizer has to send a report to the Philippine Food and Drug Administration so the regulatory agency can review if the inoculation caused the deaths.

“Once we evaluate the report, FDA can decide on the EUA based on its conclusion. There is no sufficient evidence yet if the deaths were caused by the vaccine so we remain on status quo,” Vergeire said in a briefing on Monday.

CNN Philippines correspondents Carolyn Bonquin and Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.