COVID-19: New Zealand reports its first death linked to Pfizer jab
New Zealand has reported its first death linked to the Pfizer vaccine after a woman suffered a rare side effect.
The country’s health ministry said the COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB) has considered that the woman’s death was caused by inflammation of the heart muscle which was “probably due to vaccination”.
However, the case has been referred to the coroner and the official cause of death has not yet been determined.
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The CV-ISMB did note that there were other medical issues occurring simultaneously, which may have influenced her death following her vaccination.
“This is the first case in New Zealand where a death in the days following vaccination has been linked to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine,” the ministry said in a statement, without giving the woman’s age.
The ministry added the vaccine monitoring panel attributed the death to myocarditis, a rare but known side effect of the vaccination.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that can limit the organ’s ability to pump blood and can cause changes in heartbeat rhythms.
Last month, New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) issued a safety alert on myocarditis to raise awareness of the side effect.
All cases of deaths following vaccinations are referred to the CV-ISMB for review.
The board’s chairman, Dr John Tait, said: “We want to ensure that the outcomes from this investigation are widely available for others to learn from.
“The Pfizer vaccine is highly effective in protecting against serious illness and death from COVID-19 and we remain confident about using it in New Zealand.”
The health ministry has reassured people that the benefits of the jab continue to “greatly outweigh” the risk of COVID and vaccine side effects.
In response, Pfizer said it recognised there could be incidences of myocarditis after vaccinations but such side effects were extremely rare.
“Pfizer takes adverse events that are potentially associated with our vaccine very seriously,” the company said.
“We closely monitor all such events and collect relevant information to share with worldwide regulatory authorities.”
Health authorities have so far administered vaccines to more than two million New Zealanders.
The woman’s death comes as New Zealand battles an outbreak of the Delta variant following six months of being virus-free.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland will remain in strict lockdown for at least two more weeks and the rest of the country for at least another week, but with slightly fewer restrictions.
The country has recorded a total of 3,520 COVID cases and 26 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.
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