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COVID vaccine: Hunt orders probe of Norway deaths

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Australia is investigating reports Norwegian authorities are concerned about the safety of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after a number of elderly people died after being inoculated.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency has reported 29 people had suffered side effects from having the vaccine, 13 of them fatal.

“We have immediately sought and I have been in contact with the Australian medical regulator … this morning, and requested that they seek additional information, both from the company, but also from the Norwegian medical regulator,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has also tasked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to seek advice directly from the Norwegian government.

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“So as further information is available, we’ll share that with the Australian public,” Mr Hunt said.

The Pfizer vaccine forms only part of Australia’s response to COVID-19, as there will be a greater use of the AstraZeneca vaccine once it has been approved.

Vaccinations are due to start next month.

On a more positive note, Mr Hunt said there are no remaining coronavirus hotspots in Australia.

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“What this shows is that we are containing the virus,” Mr Hunt said.

“Of course, inevitably, there will be days of new cases. There will be days where there may be a requirement for Commonwealth hotspot definition to be re-introduced.”

NSW health authorities have issued public health alerts for a western Sydney venue and additional public transport routes following confirmed cases of COVID-19.

One local case of COVID-19 infection was reported on Saturday, a western Sydney man believed to be linked to the Berala bottle shop cluster.

It came after days without a locally transmitted infection.

Queensland reported no new locally acquired cases on Sunday.

-AAP

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