While 23 people did die in Norway after taking the vaccine, any association between these deaths and vaccine remains unproven.
On December 27, 2020, a 67-year old man became the first person in Norway to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Since then, Norway has administered more than 20,000 doses of the vaccine. The first people to be vaccinated in Norway were elderly individuals in care homes.
In January 2021, several news organizations reported that 23 people died following vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Norway. Out of the 23, thirteen of them were nursing home patients. While the number of people who died is correct, it would be incorrect to state that they died due to the vaccine at the time of writing.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency "has investigated 13 of the deaths so far and concluded that common adverse reactions of mRNA vaccines, such as fever, nausea, and diarrhoea, may have contributed to fatal outcomes in some of the frail patients." Sigurd Hortemo, the chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, learned: "All reports of suspected adverse reactions with fatal outcome following vaccination are carefully assessed. The reports suggest that common adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients". He also added: "The large studies on Comirnaty (BioNTech/Pfizer) did not include patients with unstable or acute illness - and included few participants over 85 years of age." The agency further added that "around 400 deaths normally occur among care home residents every week."
On January 15, Associated Press reported, Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK: "We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have minimal risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients". He added: "doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment".
In the light of this incident, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health had updated the COVID-19 vaccination guide with more detailed advice on vaccinating the elderly who are frail.
Since the reports are still being assessed, we cannot assume at this stage that the deaths were caused directly by the vaccine. The association with vaccination remains speculative and unproven.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.