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Danish PM wants domestic Covid-19 vaccine production in 2022

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wants Denmark to produce its own Covid-19 vaccines from 2022. The state will work with the private sector to achieve that aim, she said.

Danish PM wants domestic Covid-19 vaccine production in 2022
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen wants the country to produce its own Covid-19 vaccines. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The government will call for the private sector to propose ways in which vaccines could be produced in Denmark before a bidding round on a contract is eventually opened, news wire Ritzau reported after Frederiksen gave comments to a number of media.

“Based on the dialogue we have had with the science sector recently, our view is that there is a basis to establish production in Denmark on commercial terms,” she told financial newspaper Børsen.

Frederiksen has described the issue of Covid-19 vaccines as a “national security” issue.

She did not specify which company’s vaccine she envisaged seeing production in Denmark. In comments to broadcaster TV2, the PM said that the technology used must be of the mRNA type used in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Denmark earlier this month withdrew the AstraZeneca vaccine, which uses a different technology, from its national programme due to concerns over rare but serious side effects. The Nordic nation is the only country to have completely withdrawn the vaccine.

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The PM did also not put a figure on the state investment in the project.

But a bid for the contract would have to be approved by parliament, TV2 reports.

A target of domestic Covid-19 vaccine production in Denmark next year is optimistic, according to the Danish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Lif).

“It is a sensible idea to test whether the market can deliver this if you believe (production) should happen here in Denmark,” the organisation’s business director Sofie Jensen told national broadcaster DR.

But the complexity of Covid-19 vaccine production meant such an arrangement could take some time, she added.

“From our side it is not realistic to be able to establish something like that as soon as 2022,” she added.

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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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