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HEALTH

‘Pay funeral costs in return for organs’: study

Swedish county health authorities should be allowed to pay for funerals in return for the relatives allowing the donation of the deceased's organs, Swedish researchers have argued in a new study.

'Pay funeral costs in return for organs': study

The researchers, from Linköping in eastern Sweden, argue that the provision of 30,000 ($4,800) – 45,000 kronor to pay for funeral costs would help to increase the supply of organs in Sweden.

They also argue that the sum is too small to encourage greed and the money would be reserved exclusively for funeral expenses or donations to charity.

“There is really no moral argument against this model,” said one of the researchers Gustav Tinghög to the Sydsvenskan daily.

The Local reported in late March that some 30 Swedes had travelled abroad since the 1980s to have transplants using organs bought from impoverished people in foreign countries.

One of the Swedes who bought an organ explained that he had tired of waiting in line for an operation and had instead travelled to Pakistan to buy a kidney.

Organ trade is prohibited under Swedish law.

Social affairs minister Göran Hägglund said at the time that he was deeply concerned by the development, which he described as unethical.

“It’s a manifestation of a sort of organ colonialism by which people in the wealthy part of the world exploit the poorest people in the world in a way that is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Hägglund said the Swedish system for donating organs worked quite well, but stressed that there was also plenty of scope for improvement.

“There are a lot of people who say they are prepared to donate their organs – 80 percent according to some studies – but there are very few who go from words to action,” he said.

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COVID-19

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

Sweden's Public Health Agency is recommending that those above the age of 80 should receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, as it shifts towards a longer-term strategy for the virus.

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

In a new recommendation, the agency said that those living in elderly care centres, and those above the age of 80 should from March 1st receive two vaccinations a year, with a six month gap between doses. 

“Elderly people develop a somewhat worse immune defence after vaccination and immunity wanes faster than among young and healthy people,” the agency said. “That means that elderly people have a greater need of booster doses than younger ones. The Swedish Public Health Agency considers, based on the current knowledge, that it will be important even going into the future to have booster doses for the elderly and people in risk groups.” 

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People between the ages of 65 and 79 years old and young people with risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, poor kidney function or high blood pressure, are recommended to take one additional dose per year.

The new vaccination recommendation, which will start to apply from March 1st next year, is only for 2023, Johanna Rubin, the investigator in the agency’s vaccination programme unit, explained. 

She said too much was still unclear about how long protection from vaccination lasted to institute a permanent programme.

“This recommendation applies to 2023. There is not really an abundance of data on how long protection lasts after a booster dose, of course, but this is what we can say for now,” she told the TT newswire. 

It was likely, however, that elderly people would end up being given an annual dose to protect them from any new variants, as has long been the case with influenza.

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