WHO Says Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine Is Safe For The Elderly After Norway Questioned Its Role In Numerous Deaths

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The World Health Organization said Friday that it still recommends the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 shot  with an expert panel it convened finding no evidence implicating it in the deaths of elderly people, after Norway’s medicines authority said there was no certain connection when 23 elderly patients died shortly after receiving the vaccine.

Key Facts

The reports of deaths in elderly people receiving the vaccine “are in line with” what would be expected for that demographic, the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said Friday.


The information available doesn’t suggest that the vaccine contributed to the deaths, the group concluded, emphasizing that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of not being vaccinated against Covid-19.

The “benefit-risk balance of (vaccination)…remains favorable in the elderly,” the group said.   

The panel said the WHO will continue to monitor safety data from vaccines and update its advice if needed. 

Key Background

Doctors probed after 23 people died after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. The head of Norway’s medicine’s agency said: “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine”, adding that the vaccine’s “common adverse reactions” such as nausea and fever, played a role among frail patients. . While all involved were described by officials as old, frail and seriously unwell, the announcement sparked worry in the general public, prompting the agency to publicly affirm that the danger from Covid-19 is greater than that of a vaccine to most people. The country’s public health agency has not changed its policy in light of the incident and its guidelines on administering the vaccine based on the overall health of the individual remain unchanged. 

Further Reading

Pfizer Vaccine Safe for Elderly Despite Norway Scare, WHO Says (Bloomberg)

Norway Raises Concern Over Vaccine Jabs for the Elderly (Bloomberg)

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