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VACCINE

Denmark allows AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be given by private suppliers

A new scheme came into effect on Thursday allowing people in Denmark to choose to have the Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Denmark allows AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be given by private suppliers
Denmark is to allow private companies to dispense Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Photo: Vincent West/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The vaccines from the two companies have both been withdrawn by Danish health authorities from the national vaccination programme. Only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are in general use in Denmark, which currently expects to complete vaccination of its population by the end of August.

But it will soon be possible to choose to have either the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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Health minister Magnus Heunicke signed an order allowing the vaccines to be chosen, the Ministry of Health confirmed in a statement.

The order, which comes into effect on Thursday, enables private providers to give the vaccinations on a contractual basis.

As such, it may become possible to access Covid-19 vaccination earlier than would otherwise be possible via the national programme. Consultations and vaccinations are expected to begin soon, news wire Ritzau reports.

“This will take place after consultation with a doctor where you will be given thorough information and must give informed consent if you wish to make use of this arrangement,” Heunicke said in the statement.

“There is broad political support for the arrangement, which is another important element of our vaccination effort,” he added.

The vaccines from the two companies were taken out of the national programme due to a very small risk of serious side effects combined with the stable situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in Denmark reducing the urgency to use them, health authorities previously said.

Private company Practio said it is prepared to vaccinate using AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson if it is awarded the contract to do so.

Co-founder of Practio Jonas Nilson told newspaper Jyllands-Posten that as many as 2,000 people have already put themselves on the waiting list for a vaccine.

Nilson expects the company to begin giving first doses from next week with as many as 100 doctors showing interest in vaccinating for the firm, according to the newspaper report.

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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