The World Health Organization said it sees no evidence that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine contributed to the deaths of elderly people and urged that the shot still be used.
Reports of deaths "are in line with the expected, all-cause mortality rates and causes of death in the sub-population of frail, elderly individuals, and the available information does not confirm a contributory role for the vaccine in the reported fatal events," the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety said in a statement on Friday. The risk-benefit balance of the vaccine "remains favorable in the elderly."
The panel met on Tuesday to review reports that some very sick older people had died after getting the vaccine. Initial cases reported last week in Norway had raised alarm, with authorities saying it was possible that vaccine side-effects could aggravate underlying illnesses even as they expected some nursing-home residents to die shortly after being vaccinated due to their frail underlying health.
Norway moved to calm that anxiety on Monday, with the Norwegian Medicines Agency saying that COVID-19 is more dangerous to most patients than vaccination.