Covid vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )
Many of those who lost lives were already in vulnerable groups
Scientists believe that there was not adequate evidence to hold coronavirus vaccines responsible for deaths among those who received the vaccine. Health agencies stress that great majority of post-vaccination fatalities were elderly, more vulnerable to coronavirus infection.
Norway sparked alarm last week when it reported the deaths of 33 of some 20,000 retirement home residents who had received a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Norwegian Institute of Public Health said that at least 13 of the fatalities were not only elderly but also had other ailments.
While it noted that no analysis had yet been carried out on the causes of the deaths, it suggested that with the aged and vulnerable the normal side effects of vaccination such as fever or nausea could have contributed.
Outside Norway the news raised widespread concern and fed anti-vaccine scepticism, prompting the authorities to stress that no link had been established between the vaccine and post-jab deaths.
In France, of 800,000 people vaccinated, nine deaths of chronically ill residents of care and retirement homes were recorded by Friday.
The national medicines agency ANSM said that based on available evidence, "Nothing leads to the conclusion that the reported deaths were linked to vaccination."
Other examples include 13 deaths of elderly people recorded in Sweden and seven in Iceland, all with no link established.
In Portugal, a care worker died just two days after receiving the vaccine but the country's justice ministry did not find a link between the vaccine and the death.
France's interior ministry on January 18 listed 71 "observations of death" in Europe of people who had the inoculation, but offered no further details.
The European Medicines Agency said that despite the deaths, "to date no specific concerns have been identified with Comirnaty", the commercial name for the Pfizer shot.
The EMA noted that the authorities investigate fatalities to determine whether the vaccine was responsible.
National and European agencies check any problems with vaccinations reported by health professionals, pharmaceutical firms and patients themselves.
For the moment, the number and type of deaths among those vaccinated are not considered abnormal, with no cause-and-effect relationship identified.
In many countries -- such as France, Norway, Britain and Spain -- the frail and elderly are first in line for vaccinations.
(With AFP inputs)