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Denmark ’in dialogue’ over swap for AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Denmark is in discussions with a number of countries over exchanging its shelved Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.

Denmark ’in dialogue’ over swap for AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines
Health miniseasing of Covid-19 rester Magnus Heunicke. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Health minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed that discussions were taking place on Monday.

“Here and now, we still need safe and approved vaccines. That is Pfizer and Moderna at this time,” Heunicke said.

“If we can arrange a swap deal with other countries whereby we send AstraZeneca vaccines to them and we get some of their Pfizer vaccines, that would naturally be interesting,” he added.

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The minister said that “the sooner we can get the population vaccinated, the faster we can lift Denmark out of the pandemic”.

He did not reveal the identity of the countries with which Denmark is in discussion.

“It is too early to say whether we will be successful but it would certainly be of great interest for us,” Heunicke said.

No lack of interest has been shown in acquiring the Danish vaccines, according to the minister.

“As there are many countries around us which have an epidemic on a completely different level to Denmark,” he said.

Last week, Denmark said it would stop using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in its national inoculation programme, becoming the first European country to do so over suspected rare but serious side effects.

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COVID-19

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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