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Norway: Death risk from AstraZeneca higher than of Covid-19

Norwegians have a greater risk of dying from receiving AstraZeneca's vaccine than from Covid-19. This is the conclusion which the National Institute of Public Health (FHI) drew from its analysis, recommending the vaccine, previously linked to serious complications in the form of rare blood clotting and haemorrhage amid low platelet counts, be stopped for the time being.

Published: April 24, 2021, 9:42 am

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    This could prevent up to 10 deaths related to side effects, according to the FHI. Norwegian daily Verdens Gang reported that the FHI has calculated the mortality rate from the AstraZeneca vaccine as 2,3 people per 100 000 vaccinated. Norway has seen five cases of serious incidents reported shortly after vaccination, with three fatalities.

    The FHI highlighted that especially younger women could be exposed to an “unreasonably high risk”, given the current relative levels of infection in Norway. Furthermore, the institute is against offering the vaccine on a voluntary basis, which has been proposed both in Scandinavian countries as well as in some German states.

    “We believe that such an alternative may appear unethical and with a high risk that those who make such a choice have not fully understood the risk to which they are exposed,” the institute said.

    A recent survey by the FHI in collaboration with Mindshare and Norstat, showed that 76 percent of the respondents were sceptical of at least one of the vaccines, even though 82 percent had initially been positive about getting vaccinated.

    AstraZeneca, with 99 percent, was the least trusted compared with Moderna (9 percent) and Pfizer (8 percent). The government has meanwhile launched a new expert group to further investigate both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which triggered similar concerns.

    Pending a final decision, Norway will distribute its stock of AstraZeneca to fellow Nordic countries. Sweden will take 200 000 doses, while 16 000 will go to Iceland.

    The Swedish Public Health Agency has made a different assessment of the AstraZeneca vaccine and has concluded that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks and the side effects. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said the AstraZeneca had a “high protective effect” and “reduced the risk of serious illness and death, especially among the elderly and weak”.

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