As the United Kingdom surges ahead, the European Union and European Economic Area are yet to catch up. Nevertheless, Denmark leads the UK in doses, while Sweden sets realistic targets on delivery…
By 11th January, Norway had vaccinated 20,846 people with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and last Friday it introduced the Moderna vaccine. Some 4,974 people have been vaccinated in Viken County, while 3,064 people have been vaccinated in Oslo. Residents of Oslo and Viken account for 40 per cent of vaccinated people, according to figures from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI). The fewest numbers are in Nordland and Troms og Finnmark.
Many Norwegians have taken issue with the pace of vaccinations, according to a survey conducted by the analysis agency Opinion, which tracks Norwegians’ views on topics related to the pandemic. The survey found that only one in three Norwegians trust the pace of vaccinations, while 40 per cent said they do not trust it. The agency speculated that the relatively slow progress may be due to Norway saving their second doses of the vaccine, which should be administered three weeks after the first, according to the manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech. Norway expects to receive 43,000 Moderna-doses by mid-February and 1.9 million in total.
Several regions have already vaccinated all care home residents and staff, or will have done soon, Health Minister Lena Hallengren told media last week. By the end of last week, around 80,000 people had been vaccinated, and the rate of vaccination should increase once the Moderna vaccine arrives. Vaccine coordinator Richard Bergström said the country is currently receiving 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine per week, which will rise to 500,000 per week in April when a total of five different vaccines are likely to have been approved.
Sweden has stated its ambition of offering the vaccine to the entire adult population, as well as under-18s belonging to risk groups, by the end of June 2021, and last week the Public Health Agency said it was currently on track to reach this goal. In the first stage, around 570,000 people in the top three priority groups (care home residents, healthcare workers, carers and household members of these people) will be given the vaccine. It will then be offered to other people in risk groups, around 2.6 million in total, before it is given to the rest of the adult population.
Unlike other countries which have, amid delivery concerns, set aside half their vaccine allotment to ensure patients get their second dose, Denmark used up its first Pfizer-BioNTech doses. “The government’s clear position is that the moment the vaccines touch Danish soil is the moment they have to be used,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made clear. Denmark tops the EU in vaccinations, at a pace almost three times higher than the EU average, according to data compiled by AFP. As of last Thursday, 129,170 people had received their first jab. Nurses in Denmark have been able to squeeze six doses of vaccine out of each vial, instead of the expected five, which has also helped them speed things along.
“Our set-up makes it possible to have rapid distribution and we have very good IT infrastructure,” Jens Lundgren, a University of Copenhagen professor who specialises in infectious diseases, told AFP. In Roskilde, at the Gadstrup vaccination centre set up in a former military building, 75-year-old Mikael Jensen leaves with an appointment to receive his second dose in three weeks. Nurses here vaccinate one patient every twelve minutes, the doctor in charge, Kim Christiansen, explains. Trine Holgersen, head of the local Zealand healthcare services, said everyone in the region will be guaranteed their second dose on time. Zealand will begin administering second doses today. “Our goal is to be able to vaccinate 100,000 Danes a day when we have enough vaccines,” the prime minister wrote in a recent Instagram post. Denmark began administering the new Moderna vaccine last Thursday. “With the new variant, it’s a race between its spread and the need to vaccinate,” said epidemiologist Simonsen.
Tensions are mounting over the slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in Finland. Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru said she has complained about sluggish vaccine logistics to EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides. By now Finland had expected to receive close to a million shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, instead of the tens of thousands of doses delivered by the EU so far. “We’re not very happy to be in a situation where we’ve placed big orders that haven’t been delivered as promised. The EU has said that Pfizer/BioNTech will attempt to ramp up their delivery and production to a level that would meet the EU’s demands, but time keeps running,” she said.
The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare said by 7th January some 8,155 people have received a coronavirus shot. Finland currently has around 50,000 doses. In total, Finland has ordered 6.6 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine through the EU’s coordinated vaccination programme.
Iceland began its vaccine rollout in December The almost 10,000 doses produced by BioNTech-Pfizer were administered initially to health care workers and nursing home employees. “There are many lessons that we can learn from the pandemic, but the most important one is that we are stronger together,” Health Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir told reporters. “I wish you could all see the smiles under these masks.”
Iceland has reported just twenty nine deaths sine the start of the pandemic, and social distancing. Bans on countries outside the EEA and United Kingdom, alongside testing on arrival, have kept the virus almost completely out of Iceland.
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