After 23 elderly persons passed away shortly after receiving their first shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the Norway government has warned that the coronavirus vaccine may be too risky for the old and terminally ill.
Norwegian officials have informed that of the 23 senior citizens who died after vaccination, 13 who were autopsied likely died of the “common side effects” of the shots of the first vaccine that had gained approval for emergency use. "Pfizer vaccine might have caused severe reactions in “frail, elderly people”, a Bloomberg report quoted the Norwegian Medicines Agency as saying.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has warned: “For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences. For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant.”
Both Pfizer and BioNTech are coordinating with the Norwegian drugs regulator to ascertain the cause behind the deaths of the 23 elderly persons and the former has said that the incident is not alarming and “in line with expectations."
Even in France, a frail patient had died within two hours of getting vaccinated. However, authorities ruled out that it was due to the side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.