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COVID-19 VACCINES

EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July, says vaccine chief

The EU's population of 450 million could achieve Covid-19 herd immunity by mid-July, the EU's vaccine chief Thierry Breton told French newspaper Le Parisien.

EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July, says vaccine chief
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner in charge of the vaccine production task force, said the EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July. Photo: Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

Breton, the EU commissioner in charge of the vaccine task force, had already suggested at the end of March that herd immunity would be possible in the EU by July 14th, as incoming jabs are expected to speed up the continent’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

On Monday, he confirmed his prediction to Le Parisien: “We now have good visibility of what is happening, from the production of vaccines to the distribution and tests,” he said.

“Fourteen million doses were delivered to the EU in January, 28 million in February and 60 million in March. For the next quarter, we will increase to 100 million in April, May and June. Then 120 million in the summer, and we will reach a rate of 200 million from September,” he said.

In the second half of the year as a whole, the EU will have received over 800 million doses, according to Breton.

READ ALSO: Europe’s slow vaccine rollout is ‘prolonging the pandemic’ as infections surge

The note of optimism came after several European countries have reimposed restrictions in an attempt to halt soaring Covid case numbers, and the World Health Organisation slammed Europe’s vaccine rollout as “unacceptably slow” on Thursday, saying that it was prolonging the pandemic.

“Vaccines present our best way out of the pandemic…However, the rollout of these vaccines is unacceptably slow,” WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement.

So far, only about 10 percent of the region’s total population have received one vaccine dose, and four percent have completed a full vaccine series, the organisation said.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries and territories and includes Russia and several Central Asian nations.

But when it comes to the EU’s slow vaccine rollout, Breton blamed the AstraZeneca laboratory.

“If we had received 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines we were contractually owed, today the EU would be at the same level as the UK in terms of vaccination,” he said. “I can confirm that this hole is due entirely to AstraZeneca’s delivery failures.”

READ ALSO: Questions about possible AstraZeneca jab side-effects linger

On Monday, Johnson & Johnson said it would start delivering its single-shot Covid vaccine to Europe on April 19th, giving the continent a boost in its vaccination drive.

The EU has signed a firm order for 200 million J&J doses and an option for 200 million more.

Member comments

  1. Typical French bullshit:

    “If we had received 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines we were contractually owed, today the EU would be at the same level as the UK in terms of vaccination,” he said. “I can confirm that this hole is due entirely to AstraZeneca’s delivery failures.”

    The EU was simply late, couldn’t make a decision, didn’t put any effort (or money) into the Oxford vaccine’s development as the UK did, then having belatedly put in an order didn’t read or understand the contract they signed, again couldn’t make a decision to allow the vaccine to be used, then stockpiled what they had (which is probably still the case), then threatened illegally to ban exports and they’re still in a mess.

    “The EU’s population of 450 million could achieve Covid-19 herd immunity by mid-July” – only in your dreams Mr Breton!

    The sclerotic EU administration are useless and the whole debacle is nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics. Pathetic, dangerous and will come back to haunt them.

    That’s the truth.

    1. A perfect summary of what has happened. Political posturing by the EU Commission has left them in this dire situation, and rather than take responsibility for their actions they want to blame someone else. I feel very sad for the people that have died from their mistakes.

  2. I don’t see how more deliveries from AZ to the EU would have made any difference since it was widely publicised at the time that the EU wasn’t even using up the deliveries they had received. This is all political double-speak which is pretty shameful in the midst of a lethal pandemic.

  3. This pandemic has reinforced my belief that politicians and these global organisations are not to be believed FULL STOP.

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HEALTH

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point. 

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