A first death linked to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was reported in New Zealand on Monday, authorities said. According to a report with Reuters, the information was confirmed by the health ministry, which stated a woman died after taking the vaccine. The ministry's report, however, did not specify the deceased woman's age and stated an independent COVID-19 vaccine safety monitoring board had conducted a review on the death of the woman.
The board considered the woman's death was due to myocarditis, which is known to be a rare side effect of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the statement said.
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.
"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 health ministry said.
The case has been referred to the coroner and the cause of death has not yet been determined, the health ministry said.
The independent board, however, did consider that the myocarditis was probably because of the vaccination.
The board also noted that there were other medical issues occurring at the same time that may have influenced the outcome following vaccination.
"The benefits of vaccination with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continue to greatly outweigh the risk of both COVID-19 infection and vaccine side effects, including myocarditis," it added.
Pfizer vaccine approval
On August 23 this year, the US gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots and instantly opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory.
The Pentagon promptly announced it will press ahead with plans to force members of the military to get vaccinated amid the battle against the extra-contagious delta variant. The University of Minnesota likewise said it will require its students to get the shot, as did Louisiana’s major public universities, including LSU, though state law there allows broad exemptions.
More than 200 million Pfizer doses have been administered in the US under emergency provisions — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since December. In going a step further and granting full approval, the Food and Drug Administration cited months of real-world evidence that serious side effects are extremely rare.
President Joe Biden said that for those who hesitated to get the vaccine until it received what he dubbed the “gold standard” of FDA approval, “the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”
COVID-19 situation in New Zealand
Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases in New Zealand has fallen significantly for the first time since an outbreak was detected nearly two weeks ago. Officials hope it is an indication that a strict nationwide lockdown might be working to halt the virus’s spread.
Health authorities on Monday reported 53 new community cases, down from 83 a day earlier. Some of that decrease may have been attributable to fewer tests being completed.
New Zealand’s government is pursuing an elimination strategy in which it tries to stamp out the virus entirely whenever it appears.
The government put the country into the toughest form of lockdown after the first case of the current delta-variant outbreak was detected on August 17.