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Fact check: Discussion of deaths in elderly vaccine recipients in Norway lacks context

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

A social media post has been shared thousands of times claiming the ‘mainstream media’ were ‘silent’ after 23 elderly people died in Norway after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The Facebook post was uploaded on Jan. 16, 2021 and, alongside the caption, included a screenshot of two articles alleging ‘US media silence’ and ’23 elderly people dead’ after taking the vaccine in Norway. (here)

The Facebook post lacked contextual detail. Norway is vaccinating residents of care homes, including those with serious underlying diseases. On average, 400 people die each week in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the Nordic country. Therefore, it is expected that some among this population would die from unrelated causes after receiving the vaccine.

As of Jan 18, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health had investigated 13 of the 23 reported deaths, and had not concluded that the vaccines were to blame. Camilla Stoltenberg, the head of the agency, told a news conference: “These are people who are very old, are frail and have serious diseases…It is not a given that this (the deaths) represents an overmortality or a causality.” (here)

Also, the assertion that the media has been “silent” about the deaths is inaccurate. By the time the post was uploaded, the deaths had already been covered by Bloomberg (here), the Associated Press (here) Australia’s 7 News (here) among others.

VERDICT

Missing context. News outlets were not ‘silent’ after 23 Norwegian vaccine recipients died. The deaths were reported by media including Reuters, who provided the additional context that deaths would be expected among the elderly nursing home population, and that investigators have not concluded the deaths were caused by the vaccine.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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