No link between recent deaths and vaccine, Govt says
No one in Gibraltar has died as a result of a reaction to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Gibraltar Government said on Wednesday, as it moved to quash claims on social media that sought to link the jab to the recent spate of deaths.
By Tuesday this week, 11,073 persons had received their first dose of the vaccine, with many people in the older age groups already being called for their second shot.
“The Gibraltar Health Authority can confirm that there is no evidence that any of those 11,073 who have been vaccinated in Gibraltar have died as a result of any reaction to the vaccine,” No.6 Convent Place.
“Statements to the contrary on social media are entirely untrue [and] originate from discredited individuals and organisations.”
The Gibraltar Government nevertheless revealed that six of the 11,073 people vaccinated had since died for reasons unrelated to the vaccine.
“There is no evidence to link these to the vaccination in any way,” No.6 said.
According to the statement, the six people were all aged between 70 and 100 and appear to have contracted Covid-19 before they were jabbed, although the infection had not been detected prior to vaccination.
All six were found to be positive in the days following vaccination. Five of them were residents of the Elderly Residential Services facilities.
“The Gibraltar Health Authority can confirm that there is no evidence at all of any causal link between these six deaths and the inoculation with the Pfizer vaccine,” the statement said.
The GHA’s position echoes that of governments in other countries where some people have died after being vaccinated.
Scientists in those countries say there is no evidence to incriminate the Covid-19 vaccine, adding most of those who had died were elderly and already vulnerable.
The alarm was sparked last week by Norway, which reported the deaths of 33 of some 20,000 retirement home residents who had received a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Afp reported.
At least 13 of the fatalities were not only very elderly but also considered frail with serious ailments, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.
In France, of 800,000 people vaccinated, nine deaths of chronically ill residents of care and retirement homes were recorded by last Friday.
The French 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 two days after being inoculated but the justice ministry said a post-mortem found no direct link.
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.
In the UK, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA] is also monitoring the situation and expects to make a detailed statement in the coming days.
"It is not unexpected that some of these people may naturally fall ill due to their age or underlying conditions shortly after being vaccinated, without the vaccine playing any role in that," the MHRA said.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said authorities in Gibraltar were working with counterparts in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care in rolling out the vaccine in Gibraltar and ensuring that all the doses that became available were delivered into people’ arms as quickly as possible.
“There is no evidence of any deaths in Gibraltar arising from inoculations with the Pfizer vaccine,” Mr Picardo said.
“It is untrue to suggest otherwise and people should not believe the dangerous nonsense being put out on social media by discredited individuals that suggests the opposite.”
“Immunisation is the best and only strategy to safely emerge from the difficulties that the pandemic has created for nations and communities around the world.”
“In partnership with the United Kingdom, we will turn the corner against the virus.”
According to No.6, 95% of all those over 70 contacted for vaccination in Gibraltar have agreed to the inoculation and have already had a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The second dose will start to be administered to them as from Monday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Our reporters are working round-the-clock to bring you the latest news on Gibraltar and the Covid-19 crisis. All our coverage on this critical issue is available free outside the paywall. If you find it useful, please help us reach more people by sharing our journalism. And if you want to support our work further, please consider subscribing to the digital version of our daily newspaper and all our premium online content. You can subscribe via our website or for iOS devices via the iTunes store. Thank you.