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Fact Check Friday: No proof COVID-19 vaccine contributed to Norway deaths

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 1:58 PM, Jan 22, 2021

Questions were raised about the COVID-19 vaccine after more than 30 elderly people died after being inoculated in Norway, according to Politifact. But there is no proof the deaths were caused by the vaccine.

Norwegian health authorities reported 23 deaths on Jan. 15. By Jan. 18, the number of deaths increased to 33. The people who died were “very frail nursing home residents with serious underlying illnesses,” Politifact reported.

Health officials said 48,000 people had been vaccinated, and the Norwegian government said all the deaths were older, sometimes terminally ill people in nursing homes.

Despite that, several Facebook posts were flagged for misleading information about the vaccine being the cause of those deaths. The posts said the vaccines themselves killed the elderly people. But Norwegian health officials say that’s not accurate.

Norway has stringent reporting responsibilities when it comes to vaccine reactions. At a Jan. 18 press conference, Camilla Stoltenberg, the leader of the Institute of Public Health, said, "It is not a given that this represents any excess mortality or that there is a causal connection.”

The Norwegian Medicine Agency also reported “an average of 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”

Part of the report from the Norwegian Medicine Agency said:

“A high proportion of nursing home residents vaccinated during the first round of vaccinations were very frail or terminally ill patients. Every day, an average of 45 people die in Norwegian nursing homes or other similar institutions. When vaccinating such a group, deaths will inevitably occur shortly after the vaccine is administered. The vast majority of those who have been vaccinated appear not to have suffered any adverse reaction to the vaccine. A characteristic of the deaths is that they have occurred amongst nursing home residents who are very frail and have serious underlying illnesses.”

Anyone who has concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine should consult their doctor.

Send me your questions for Fact Check Friday to adrian.whitsett@wcpo.com.