Link between COVID-19 shot, Swiss death 'highly unlikely', says drugs regulator

Link between COVID-19 shot, Swiss death 'highly unlikely', says drugs regulator

FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Meyrin
Civil protection agents perform an antigenic rapid test at the screening center of La Tour Hospital Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland, Nov 26, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

ZURICH: Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic on Wednesday (Dec 30) said it saw no link between the death of a 91-year old person in the canton of Lucerne and the COVID-19 vaccine, adding the deceased suffered from multiple illnesses before getting the shot.

"Clarifications by cantonal health authorities and Swissmedic determined that, as a result of the illness history and disease course, a link between the death and the COVID-19 vaccine was highly unlikely," the regulator said in a statement.

Swissmedic said previous illnesses would be listed on the death certificate as the person's "natural cause of death".

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Lucerne was the site of the first vaccinations in Switzerland last week, with a shot from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech given primarily to elderly people.

Switzerland has received 107,000 Pfizer/BioNTech doses so far, and expects to get 250,000 per month starting next year.

Neither Lucerne nor Swissmedic released the time that elapsed between the person receiving the shot and when the death occurred. The person's gender was not given.

Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine is the only inoculation approved so far in Switzerland. It was approved on an emergency basis in the United States and Britain, and has conditional marketing approval in the European Union after trials in tens of thousands of people.

Pfizer said its thoughts were with the deceased's family.

"It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine, are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population of elderly and at-risk individuals who are currently being prioritized for vaccination," the US-based company said.

Millions of doses of the vaccine have been administered. Several people have suffered allergic reactions following shots, though those incidents were resolved quickly.

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Source: Reuters/jt