What You Need To Know About Allergic Reactions To Covid Vaccines

Like all new drugs, the Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorized in Western countries come with some safety concerns and side effects. What You Need to Know About Allergic Reactions To Covid Vaccines

Many people who’ve received the first two shots deployed, one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and another from Moderna Inc., have experienced fever, headache and pain at the site of the injection. These side effects generally disappear quickly. As many as 10 people have had a serious allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, to the vaccines.



1. What Is Anaphylaxis?

The body fights foreign invaders through a variety of mechanisms that include making protective proteins called antibodies, releasing toxins that kill microbes, and marshaling guardian cells to battle the infection. As in any conflict, sometimes the effort to repel an infection can itself be damaging. In rare cases, it can produce runaway inflammation and swelling of tissues in a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

As much as 5% of people in the U.S. have had such a reaction to various substances. It can be fatal if, for example, the person’s airway swells shut, though deaths are rare. Allergies to insect stings and foods can provoke it, though drug reactions are the most common cause of anaphylaxis fatalities in the U.S. and U.K.

2. Where Have Covid Vaccines Triggered Cases?

A Dec. 19 presentation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention referenced two cases of anaphylaxis associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the U.K. and six in the U.S. A health-care worker in Alaska who received a shot had to be hospitalized overnight.

Later in the month, in Israel, which is deploying the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a man suffered anaphylactic shock an hour after receiving a shot, according to the Jerusalem Post. He said he’d had earlier reactions to penicillin, the paper reported. And a physician in Boston with a shellfish allergy reported having an anaphylactic reaction to Moderna’s vaccine. None of the reactions resulted in death.

3. Has Anaphylaxis Been Connected To Vaccines Before?

Yes. A 2016 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found 33 confirmed vaccine-triggered anaphylaxis cases that occurred after 25,173,965 doses of inoculations, a rate of about 1.31 per million doses. So far, the rate for known cases connected to administration of approximately 3 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appears to be more than double that, but still very low.

4. How Long Does The Risk Last?

Usually not long. Anaphylactic reactions normally occur within minutes to hours of exposure to a specific substance, said Michael Kinch, a drug development expert and associate vice chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis. Of the 29 cases where the time lag was documented in the 2016 study, symptoms of anaphylaxis began within 30 minutes in eight cases, within the next 90 minutes in another eight, within two to four hours in 10 cases, within four to eight hours in two cases, and the next day in one.

5. What’s Being Done About The Risk?

The U.K. and U.S. have advised people who have allergies to any component of a Covid vaccine not to receive it. Anaphylaxis can be quickly countered with antihistamines and adrenaline injectors like Mylan NV’s Epi-Pen that slow or halt immune reactions, and health workers giving the vaccine are keeping such items at the ready.

These treatments don’t cancel out the beneficial effects of vaccines. In the U.S., health workers are observing anyone who has received the vaccine for at least 15 minutes post-injection to watch for signs of a reaction. People who have had reactions to a first dose of vaccine shouldn’t receive a second, according to the CDC.

6. Do We Know What In The Shots Is Causing The Reactions?

That isn’t clear. The two leading candidates are polyethylene glycol — a chemical found in many foods, cosmetics and medications — and lipid nanoparticles that encapsulate the messenger RNA, a genetic component in the vaccines, according to Eric Topol, a clinical trials expert and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Polyethylene glycol has been previously linked to a handful of anaphylaxis cases. Once a cause has been narrowed down, it may be possible to make Covid vaccines even safer than they are now, Topol said. If other serious non-allergic side effects crop up, he said, “they, too, are likely to be quite rare and the net benefit of vaccination overwhelmingly positive.”

Updated: 1-7-2021

Who’s On the Hook If Vaccines Go Wrong?

Given the breakneck pace of production, there are very few answers about what manufacturers and governments are ultimately responsible for.

The Covid-19 vaccines are here and distribution has begun. But what if something goes wrong?

Whether it’s a loss of income, hefty medical bills or other serious adverse effects from getting a shot, someone has to pick up the tab, be it vaccine manufacturers or governments. In the past, so-called liability shields have given companies cover to produce effective treatments quickly without legal exposure.

But it’s a risky endeavor for countries to absorb full responsibility for highly novel products, developed and licensed at lightning speed. Especially when every man, woman and, eventually, child will need to be injected.

Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India Ltd., the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, wants indemnity. Competitors tripping up one another by instigating frivolous civil suits isn’t a trivial risk for the likes of Poonawalla, who’s manufacturing the jab developed by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University.

It could get messier still because some healthcare systems may experiment with dosage quantities and intervals to deal with mutations. Who will be responsible if there are serious adverse side events then? No insurer will underwrite the risk; the burden of compensation will fall on states or, in the case of poor countries, on Covax, a global initiative to ensure equitable distribution.

On current estimates, Covax can meet only a fifth of global demand by the end of the year. So countries that are striking direct agreements with producers will still have to worry about potential tort claims, which seek civil remedies — and not just for the next year or two. The virus may stick around even after universal immunization, with mutant strains creating an enduring market for jabs long after Covid has ceased to be a public health emergency.

Manufacturers, distributors and other entities in the United States “are very likely to find their Covid-19 products and services moving across borders,” according to RAND Corporation researchers. Their legal exposure in foreign courts is thus uncertain, especially given the rapid pace of vaccine development and limited data about side effects and long-term consequences.

Going by past pandemics, this data won’t start showing up for a while. When it does, it will likely vary by country, which affects how liability is handled. In 2013, four years after swine flu hit the globe, the U.K. government reversed its stand on the safety of the Pandemrix jab made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, after a major study showed that it was associated with narcolepsy. Affected individuals could apply for compensation.

At the time, the health department noted that “the decision to recommend that children got this vaccine during the flu pandemic was based on evidence available at the time, along with the advice from the European Medicines Agency which approved its use.” It then said that the department keeps “all emerging evidence under review,” which is why usage stopped in 2011 for those under 20. The data evolves, muddying potential liability issues.

It gets more complicated. Rich countries are buying up large doses of viable vaccines from Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. Many are now weighing turning over a portion they have secured to low- and middle-income nations facing delays as Covax hasn’t worked out as planned. The European Union, for instance, is considering donating 5% of its inoculations, Reuters reported. With altruistic gifts, it’s even harder to assign responsibility.

During the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, the World Heath Organization came up with a multi-country liability shield, as RAND researchers describe it, or a global legal framework. Recipient countries had to sign a letter of agreement that basically allowed donors to wash their hands of liability, or indemnify donors, as long as they followed WHO standards.

The issues were knotty and some countries didn’t have the resources to interpret them. Eventually, of the 94 countries that were interested in donations, 87 signed the agreement and only 78 completed the preconditions in the agreement for vaccine supply.

The complexity of the current situation and the sheer scale of production mean a new agreement will be required. National governments will need to negotiate, consider and approve various requirements – all long processes. If disparities between countries crop up, manufacturers will face barriers to production and distribution.

The alternative is national compensation funds, which honor claims for those who have suffered adverse effects from the vaccines. Many countries simply can’t afford these, further reinforcing the resource and investment imbalance.

Previous widespread illnesses like small pox and other influenzas show that liability issues can hinder progress of new vaccines, even domestically. In 1976, as the Ford administration took on an ambitious program to vaccinate millions against an anticipated outbreak of swine flu, insurers and manufacturers balked. Their concerns around legal exposure prompted Congress to pass a law waiving liability.

Through legislation, the U.S. was substituted as the defendant in lawsuits against any vaccine manufacturer, distributor or American entity providing free inoculation. Although that flu scare didn’t evolve into a full-blown pandemic, firms in the U.S. are now effectively protected. Such a legal setup isn’t standard in most other places.

An additional challenge this time around is the space race-type international competition in vaccine development. China and Russia are promoting inoculations with little or no data validating their effectiveness in large studies. India has licensed an indigenous product developed by local firm Bharat Biotech International Ltd.

“in clinical trial mode” — those receiving the shots will be tracked and that will supposedly prove its efficacy. That’s because phase three experimental data, which do exactly that, aren’t yet available.

All this is too breathtaking a pace for scientists. Policy makers in developing nations may not have a choice but to take what they can get — easily, cheaply and quickly. But in so doing, they might just be storing up legal troubles for later.

Updated: 1-7-2021

Covid-19 Vaccines Have Triggered Severe Allergic Reactions In 29 People In U.S. To Date

Rate of reactions to Covid-19 vaccines is higher than it is for flu shot, but the CDC says it is rare and encourages inoculation.

At least 29 people in the U.S. have developed severe allergic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines, federal health authorities said Wednesday.

The rate is far higher than for the seasonal flu vaccine, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said. But the severe reactions were rare and didn’t result in any deaths, and they encouraged use of the shots.

The 29 cases are as of Jan. 5 and are out of more than 5.3 million doses that have been administered given to date, the CDC said.

The rate of 5.5 cases of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, for every one million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered to date compares with the rate of 1.3 cases for every one million doses of flu vaccine, according to the CDC.

Still, the cases of anaphylaxis are “exceedingly rare,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, who is leading the agency’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts.

In a conference call Wednesday, Dr. Messonnier said the benefits of a vaccine far outweigh the potential risks.

“It’s a very safe vaccine, and we’re in the setting of 2,000 Covid deaths per day,” she said. “I continue to believe that the risk of Covid and the risk of poor outcomes, especially in senior citizens, makes it imperative that people go ahead and get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to them.”

The 29 people received vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE, which were authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11, as well as Moderna Inc., whose vaccine was authorized Dec. 18.

The CDC and FDA are reviewing reports of serious adverse reactions that may be associated with the vaccines and working with manufacturers to identify whether a particular component plays a role in the reactions.

Anyone who has an immediate or allergic reaction to the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shouldn’t get their second dose, Dr. Messonnier said. People who have had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy before, or who have a history of anaphylaxis must be observed for 30 minutes after vaccination, she said. Immunization sites need to be prepared to treat patients for anaphylaxis, she added.

The CDC said all other vaccine recipients should be monitored for 15 minutes after getting the shot.

Federal officials are searching for a possible cause of the severe reactions, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is planning a study to learn more.

“We’re studying these vaccines closely, and our systems for adverse events are incredibly robust,” Dr. Messonnier said.

One possible culprit, an FDA official said last month, is polyethylene glycol, also known as PEG. The compound is found in other medical products, including laxatives and preparations taken ahead of colonoscopies, and has been known to trigger anaphylaxis on rare occasions.

In both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, PEG is an ingredient in the fatty envelope surrounding the messenger RNA that is the main ingredient in the vaccine.

Pfizer is closely monitoring all reports of serious allergic reactions and updating its labeling language if needed, a company spokeswoman said. Its prescribing information already has a warning that treatment for anaphylaxis must be available during vaccination.

“Moderna is aware of two cases of anaphylaxis during the EUA period [emergency use authorization], one of which was reported directly to Moderna,” a company spokesman said. “We continue to follow the reports of the CDC and FDA in anticipation of learning about any additional cases that may not have been reported directly to us.”

The CDC provided details Wednesday of 21 cases of anaphylaxis identified out of more than 1.9 million doses of vaccines administered between Dec. 14 and 23. The rate of anaphylaxis during that period was 11.1 cases for every one million doses administered, the CDC said, showing how easily the rate can change given that the vaccination program is in its earliest stage and data are limited.

In a study published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the agency said 4,393 incidents related to Covid-19 vaccination were logged into a federal adverse events reporting system as of Dec. 23. CDC officials identified 175 as possible cases of severe allergic reaction and studied them further.

They determined that 21 were cases of anaphylaxis, and the vast majority experienced the life-threatening event within a half-hour after vaccination. Most of the people—17—had a documented history of severe reactions to one or more of a wide range of potential allergens: drugs and other medical products, eggs and other foods, or bee or wasp stings.

Seven had previously had anaphylaxis; Their events were tied to a rabies vaccine, H1N1 flu vaccine, jellyfish sting, walnuts, and certain drugs.

Four were hospitalized, including three in intensive care, while the others were treated in an emergency department. Most received injections of epinephrine, the CDC said.

It isn’t clear whether their previous allergic reactions were tied to their anaphylaxis from the Covid-19 vaccine, Dr. Messonnier said. “That’s why generally, our recommendation is that folks should be consulting with their health-care provider,” she said. For example, “there’s a big difference from somebody who had a mild allergic reaction in their childhood, versus somebody that had a severe allergic reaction last week.”

The cases were from different areas of the country and received vaccines from different lots, the CDC said, indicating that the problem isn’t due to contamination or another problem with one batch. The median age of the cases was 40, and the vast majority—19—were women. That may be because nearly two-thirds of the vaccinations during that period were given to women, the agency said.

Updated: 1-10-2021

Covid Patients’ Symptoms Persist Six Months In Foreboding Study

More than three-quarters of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Wuhan between January and May had at least one persistent symptom six months later, according to a report that forebodes the enduring pain of the pandemic.

Almost two-thirds of those followed still experienced fatigue or muscle weakness half a year after their acute illness, while 26% had sleep difficulties and 23% had anxiety or depression, according to the peer-reviewed study of 1,733 patients in The Lancet medical journal.

The research from China underscores the long-term effects of Covid-19 for individuals and societies as infections surge across the world despite budding vaccination campaigns. It also highlights the growing need for sustained care for large swaths of populations and research into the new disease’s lingering effects, according to Bin Cao, a lung specialist at the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Diseases in China and one of the authors.

Beyond that, the study adds credence to worries about the possibility of reinfections among those who have recovered. The researchers analyzed levels of neutralizing antibodies — immune proteins that the body normally makes in response to viruses that can ward off repeat illness. In a group of 94 patients, levels of these antibodies fell by an average of 53% during the six-month study period after their sickness peaked.

In addition to causing pneumonia, Covid-19 is known to affect the kidneys, heart, blood vessels and other tissues. Lab tests showed that 13% of patients whose kidneys appeared healthy during their hospital stays had reduced function in the follow-up examination.

Walking Test

For many hard-hit patients, lung function was still compromised half a year later. More than half of people who required ventilation had a reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream, while about a quarter of others had that problem.

Patients with severe disease also performed worse in a six-minute walking test, with about a quarter of them unable to reach the lower distance limit of the normal range, the study said.

The study followed patients discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, where the virus emerged, and their median age was 57.

“There are few reports on the clinical picture of the aftermath of Covid-19,” researchers from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan said in an accompanying comment, and the Wuhan study is “therefore relevant and timely.”

What To Know About Vaccine-Linked Deaths, Allergies

Like all new drugs, the vaccines that have been authorized to protect against Covid-19 come with some safety concerns and side effects. Many people who’ve received the first two Western shots deployed, one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, and another from Moderna Inc., have experienced fever, headache and pain at the site of the injection. These side effects generally disappear quickly.

More worrisome, Norway has reported deaths among elderly people with serious underlying health conditions following administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — possibly linked to those side effects. A few other recipients of the various jabs have had a serious, but treatable, allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis.

1. What’s Known About The Deaths?

Thirty-three were reported in mid-January among some 42,000 people given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Norway, where authorities have prioritized the immunization of nursing-home residents. Those who died were all in the “75 years +” bracket (exact ages weren’t given for privacy reasons) and included terminally ill patients anticipated to have only weeks or months to live. All deaths occurring within a few days of vaccination are carefully assessed.

Health authorities in Norway say there’s no evidence of a direct link between the 33 cases and the vaccine they received.

An average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency. Sigurd Hortemo, the agency’s chief physician, said he can’t rule out that common adverse reactions to the vaccine, such as fever and nausea, may be potentially life-threatening in patients with severe underlying health problems.

2. Have There Been Deaths Elsewhere?

In Germany, where more than 800,000 people have received their first of two doses of the the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Paul Ehrlich Institute has investigated at least seven cases of elderly people dying shortly after vaccination. In its report, it said the deaths were probably due to the patients’ underlying diseases including carcinomas, kidney deficiencies and Alzheimer’s, not the inoculation.

3. What Reactions Did These Fatal Cases Develop?

The deaths in Norway were associated with fever, nausea and diarrhea — relatively common, short-lived effects that some people can experience after almost any vaccination, according to information relayed by Australia’s Therapeutics Administration. (It’s working with the European Medicines Agency, which includes Norway, before deciding whether to approve the drug in Australia.)

The reactions aren’t expected to be of significance in the vast majority of people. Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been administered in the U.S., U.K. and some other countries with no deaths reported due to the vaccine, Abrar Chughtai, a lecturer in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, told the Australian Science Media Centre.

4. What Is Known About The Vaccine’s Risks In Older, Frail People?

Not a great deal. It’s possible that common adverse reactions to vaccines that aren’t dangerous in fitter, younger patients may aggravate underlying disease in the elderly, Steinar Madsen, the Norwegian agency’s medical director, told The BMJ medical journal. Only a limited number of people older than 85 years participated in large clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the agency said. The average trial participant for the two approved Western vaccines was in his or her early 50s.

5. What Is Being Done In Response To The Deaths?

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has updated its Covid-19 vaccination guide with more detailed advice on vaccinating the elderly who are frail. “We are now asking for doctors to continue with the vaccination, but to carry out extra evaluation of very sick people whose underlying condition might be aggravated by it,” Madsen said.

The evaluation includes discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination with patients and their families to decide whether or not immunization is prudent. Separately, Nordic neighbor Finland has recommended against systematic vaccinations of terminally ill patients whose active treatment (in other words, those being palliated) has been stopped. The reason is that common side-effects such as temporary fever can weaken their condition.

6. What Other Serious Reactions Have There Been?

The body fights foreign invaders through a variety of mechanisms that include making protective proteins called antibodies, releasing toxins that kill microbes, and marshaling guardian cells to battle the infection. As in any conflict, sometimes the effort to repel an infection can itself be damaging. In rare cases, it can produce runaway inflammation and swelling of tissues in a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.

As much as 5% of the U.S. population has had such a reaction to various substances. It can be fatal if, for example, the person’s airway swells shut, though deaths are rare. Allergies to insect stings and foods can provoke it, though drug reactions are the most common cause of anaphylaxis fatalities in the U.S. and U.K.

7. Where Have Covid-19 Vaccines Triggered Cases?

According to a Jan. 6 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 cases of anaphylaxis associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had been confirmed in the country as of Dec. 23. Of those people, 17 had a documented history of allergies, and seven had a history of anaphylaxis. A Dec. 19 presentation from the CDC referenced two cases in the U.K. associated with the same vaccine, and later in the month, in Israel, a man suffered anaphylactic shock an hour after receiving it, according to the Jerusalem Post. He said he’d had earlier reactions to penicillin, the paper reported. CDC officials say they’ve also seen the reactions in recipients of the Moderna shot and are compiling data on them.

8. Has Anaphylaxis Been Connected To Vaccines Before?

Yes. Such reactions occur about 1.3 times per million doses of flu vaccine administered. With other vaccines they have been seen at rates of 12 to 25 per million doses, though the studies were small. For the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine, according to the CDC, the rate as of Dec. 23 is 11.1 per million doses, which is very low. The agency said the risk surrounding the vaccine is less than the risk of getting a severe case of Covid-19.

9. How Long Does The Risk Of Allergic Reaction Last?

Usually not long. Anaphylactic reactions normally occur within minutes to hours of exposure to a specific substance, said Michael Kinch, a drug development expert and associate vice chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis. In the U.S. so far, the time lag ranged from two to 150 minutes, with the median being 13 minutes, according to the CDC.

10. What’s Being Done About That?

The U.K. and U.S. have advised people who have allergies to any component of a Covid vaccine not to receive it. Anaphylaxis can be quickly countered with antihistamines in tandem with adrenaline injectors like Mylan NV’s Epi-Pen that slow or halt immune reactions, and health workers giving the vaccine are keeping such items at the ready. These treatments don’t cancel out the beneficial effects of vaccines.

In the U.S., health workers are observing everyone who receives the vaccine for at least 15 minutes post-injection to watch for signs of a reaction; those with a worrying history of allergic reaction are monitored for twice as long. People who have had reactions to a first dose of vaccine shouldn’t receive a second, according to the CDC.

11. Do We Know What In The Shots Is Causing The Reactions?

That isn’t clear. The two leading candidates are polyethylene glycol — a chemical found in many foods, cosmetics and medications — and lipid nanoparticles that encapsulate the messenger RNA, a genetic component in the vaccines, according to Eric Topol, a clinical trials expert and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Polyethylene glycol has been previously linked to a handful of anaphylaxis cases. Once a cause has been narrowed down, it may be possible to make Covid vaccines even safer than they are now, Topol said.

Norway Moves To Calm Vaccine Anxiety After Elderly Deaths

Health authorities in Norway sought to allay safety concerns raised by the death of some elderly patients after they were vaccinated against Covid-19, saying there’s no evidence of a direct link.

The initial reports from Norway raised alarm as the world looks for early signs of potential side effects from the vaccines. Although doctors say it’s possible that vaccine side-effects could aggravate underlying illnesses, they were expecting nursing-home residents to die shortly after being vaccinated because deaths are more common among the frailest and sickest elderly patients.

“Clearly, Covid-19 is far more dangerous to most patients than vaccination,” Steinar Madsen, medical director at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said by phone on Monday, adding that a connection between the vaccine and the deaths is difficult to prove. “We are not alarmed.”

In Norway, 33 people aged 75 and over died following immunization, according to the agency’s latest figures. All were already seriously ill, it said. The Scandinavian country has already inoculated almost all of its nursing home population, with more than 48,000 people vaccinated as of Monday afternoon.

The reported fatalities are well under 1 out of 1,000 nursing-home patients to be vaccinated, he said. The side effects of immunization can, in some cases, “tip the patients into a more serious course of the underlying disease,” Madsen said. “We can’t rule that out.”

Hong Kong Request

Other countries, including Germany and Israel, have also reported deaths in people who recently were vaccinated, without identifying causal links. Hong Kong’s government-appointed vaccine advisory panel said Monday that it’s seeking more data from the Norwegian and German governments on incidents involving the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which has been approved in the territory.

Experts on vaccines and aging had predicted early on that deaths after vaccinations in high-risk patients might cause confusion.

“Frail, older adults die, and die often, and I don’t think people realize that,” said Keipp Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University who advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine use. “My concern was that we would introduce vaccine, and people would think it was killing people.”

Talbot was the only person on the CDC advisory panel to recommend against offering Covid-19 vaccines first to old and sick people in nursing homes — not because she was concerned they’d be harmed, she said, but because she was concerned that inevitable deaths shortly after shots would lower trust in the vaccines. Talbot said she also thought it might be a better use of scarce supplies to immunize the people surrounding the old and sick.

One key metric would be to compare the number of people who would typically die in a nursing home with the number who die shortly after getting a Covid vaccine, Talbot said.

Daily Deaths

“It is important to remember that about 45 people die every day in nursing homes in Norway, so it is not a given that this represents any excess mortality or that there is a causal connection,” Camilla Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said at a press conference on Monday.

Until Friday, Norway had only used the vaccine provided by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. The companies are now working with the Nordic country to look into the deaths. The first Europe-wide safety report on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is due to be published at the end of January.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says…

“The concept of limiting Covid-19 vaccinations to those below 75 years of age isn’t supported by the U.S. data covering over 14 million people inoculated, our analysis shows, despite Norway reporting a much higher death rate after using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Norway’s excessive deaths suggest they are in subjects with serious, uncontrolled illnesses.”

— Sam Fazeli, Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Industry Analyst

Madsen said he isn’t expecting a different outcome with another vaccine, from Moderna Inc., which was introduced in Norway on Friday. Like the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, it uses messenger RNA technology that teaches the body’s cells to fight off infection.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency says it made clear before the vaccination program started that “it is expected that deaths will occur in a time-related context with vaccination” for the “oldest and sickest” people receiving inoculation.

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