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Australia seeking urgent advice after 29 elderly deaths from Pfizer vaccine

Australia seeking urgent advice after 29 elderly deaths from Pfizer vaccine

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is seeking more information on the highly-touted Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after Norway reported 29 deaths to the vaccine.

Hunt asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to seek out more information about the vaccine, with the TGA confirming it's working closely with the European Medicines Agency to investigate risks flagged by Norway.

“The TGA is evaluating all of the scientific and clinical information provided by the vaccine’s sponsor, Pfizer, as well as other available evidence … prior to making a regulatory decision,” the TGA said in a statement.

Media reports in Norway have flagged that six more elderly patients have died after being given the vaccine.

All patients who have passed are 75 and over, with 13 deaths fulled assessed and another 16 under review.

“Most people have experienced the expected side effects of the vaccine, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, local reactions at the injection site, and worsening of their underlying condition,” a statement from the Norwegian Medicines Agency said.

The TGA has confirmed that the deaths were recorded among very frail patients, with some anticipated to have months to live before taking the vaccine.

“We will continue to work with European regulators over the coming days to investigate this report and determine whether specific warnings about risks of vaccination in the very elderly or terminally ill should be potentially included in the product information for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

“We have been in contact with the Foreign Minister, and Marise Payne will task DFAT to seek advice directly from the Norwegian government,” Mr Hunt told reporters on Sunday.

“In addition, I‘ve briefed both the Acting Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office today. So as further information is available, we’ll share that with the Australian public.”

Hunt has also confirmed that the Federal government has removed all hotspots in Australia.

“There are no remaining hotspot definitions,” 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 reintroduced. But they‘ll be done on the basis of that, and cases.”

“We‘re not out of the woods because the world isn’t out of the woods,” he said. “And our challenges remain always, while there is a disease that is abroad in the rest of the world, but Australians are doing incredibly well.”