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VACCINE

Spain to register those who refuse Covid vaccine (and share across EU)

Spain will set up a registry of people who refuse to be vaccinated against the new coronavirus and share it with other European Union member states, although it will not be made public, Health Minister Salvador Illa said Monday.

Spain to register those who refuse Covid vaccine (and share across EU)
Photo: AFP

During an interview with La Sexta television, Illa reiterated that vaccination against the virus — which as in most EU nations began in Spain over the weekend — would not be mandatory.

“What will be done is a registry, which will be shared with our European partners… of those people who have been offered it and have simply rejected it,” he said.

“It is not a document which will be made public and it will be done with the utmost respect for data protection,” he added, noting that employers or members of the general public would not have access to it.

The proportion of Spaniards unwilling to take a Covid-19 vaccine has plunged to 28 percent in December from 47 percent last month, according to a poll published last month.

The survey by the state-funded CIS research institute found 40.5 percent of respondents are willing to have the jab while 16.2 percent would do so if it is shown to be “reliable”.

Spain has been one of Europe's worst-hit countries by the pandemic, with the virus death toll passing the 50,000 mark on Monday, according to the health ministry.

Nearly 1.9 million people have been infected.   

The government expects to have between 15 million and 20 million people out of its population of 47 million vaccinated against the virus by June.    

“The way to defeat the virus is to vaccinate all of us or the more the better,” Illa said.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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