According to

What is known so far about the post vaccination deaths in Norway

Medical director Steinar Madsen stated,

Q: Were these problems unexpected?

A: No. A mass vaccination campaign by definition involves a very large number of people — and as a general principle, some adverse events, which could include serious side effects and deaths, should be expected.

Is this normal?

Are "some serious side effects and deaths expected" from a mass vaccination campaign of a new vaccine?


2 Answers 2


Even if you just read a bit further in the article, there is a quote:

“The Norwegian Medicines Agency has communicated, prior to the vaccination, that when vaccinating the oldest and sickest, it is expected that deaths will occur in a time-related context with vaccination. This does not mean that there is a causal link between vaccination and death. We have also, in connection with the reported deaths, conveyed that it is possible that common and known side effects of the vaccines may have been a contributing factor to a serious course or fatal outcome.”

Some frail elderly people were vaccinated. These are the type of people that die all the time, they are frail and elderly. For just a thought experiment, imagine you vaccinate 10000 people that have a 1% likelihood to die this week. You'd expect 100 of them to die within a week of being vaccinated. It would be false to attribute causality to the vaccine in this circumstance, but it would still show up in the numbers discussed.

As said in the article, so far we have no idea if the vaccine is causal in any of these deaths. Perhaps in a very frail person it could (we know in healthy people there are some mild side effects; sometimes mild effects are serious for the frail) so we shouldn't vaccinate those people, but no matter what it's important to realize that tens of thousands of people die every day around the world; if we vaccinate everyone we should expect thousands of deaths to occur post-vaccine even with no vaccine-related increase.

  • The way it's phrased in the sentence I quoted, just after "some serious side effects are expected" sounds like the medical director meant some deaths are expected related to the application of a new vaccine, not just as a probability of people dying of something unrelated when they were being vaccinated
    – Pablo
    Jan 19, 2021 at 2:51
  • BTW, I wouldnt expect a new approved vaccine to cause deaths, but recently I've read about a Dengue vaccine which was approved, and after being used for a while they found they actually made it worse for some cases of Dengue, so that's why they dont use it anymore. So I guess even regular and prolongued trials for new vaccines arent a guarantee that they are 100% safe.
    – Pablo
    Jan 19, 2021 at 2:56
  • It says some adverse events should be expected. It doesn't say those adverse events should be attributed to the vaccine. Adverse events are just that, events. No causal relationship is established when you report an adverse event
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 19, 2021 at 3:22

Yes, they're normal. No, these problems were not unexpected. In the big trial of one of the first two vaccines, 6 people died. Four who received placebo and two received the vaccine. But none of the six died from something that the vaccine is believed likely to have caused or prevented.

  • I was using that situation as an example for a more broad question. The question isnt about what happened in Norway
    – Pablo
    Jan 21, 2021 at 13:25
  • The first two sentences in my answer (which I just clarified) are my answer to the broad question. The rest of my answer is just explanation/evidence for it. None of my answer is about Norway. Jan 28, 2021 at 2:19

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