As of 23 February 2021, the Norwegian Medicines Agency had assessed 102 reports of deaths following vaccination amongst elderly people in need of nursing care, most of whom were nursing home residents. The average age of the people concerned was over 87.
Every week, more than 300 residents die in Norwegian nursing homes and other similar institutions. Many such residents are ill and extremely frail. Given that 40,000 nursing home residents were to be vaccinated, it was therefore expected that there would be deaths following vaccination, without there necessarily being any causal relationship.
The reports on many of these deaths state that no link with vaccination is suspected and that the event was due to an underlying serious illness suffered by the patient. However, the Norwegian Medicines Agency believes that it is impossible to rule out the possibility that common adverse reactions to vaccines, such as fever and nausea, may have aggravated the underlying conditions of extremely frail patients.
“The aim of establishing the expert group is to obtain an independent assessment of the extent to which the deaths that have been reported could be linked to vaccination," says senior medical consultant Sigurd Hortemo of the Norwegian Medicines Agency
The group's report is expected to be presented before Easter and will examine the following points:
- Reassessment of the possible causal relationship between death and vaccination for each report.
- Whether there are any commonalities amongst these patients, such as underlying medical conditions or other risk factors which could have contributed to the fatal outcome.
- The temporal sequence from vaccination through to the death of the patients, and whether the event occurred after the first or second dose.
- An overall assessment of the reports viewed in the context of the mortality rate amongst this age group.
The expert group consists of:
- Professor Torgeir B Wyller (University of Oslo)
- Professor Anette Hylen Ranhoff (University of Bergen)
- Consultant Marius Myrstad (Bærum Hospital)
- Professor Bård Reiakvam Kittang (University of Bergen)