Denmark ‘lends’ Germany 55,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses

Denmark is to give 55,000 doses of its AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein after dropping the jab from its vaccination programme amid concerns about side effects.

Denmark 'lends' Germany 55,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses
Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

“Following a request from the minister-president of Schleswig-Holstein, the government has decided to put 55,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the disposal of the border regions,” the Danish foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The vaccine doses will be returned upon an agreed timeframe,” it added.

Denmark was the first country in Europe to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s jab in its vaccination rollout in March, after reports of rare but serious cases of blood clots among those who had received the vaccine.

The Danish Health Authority announced on April 14th it was dropping the vaccine from Denmark’s vaccination programme altogether, citing “a potential cross-reaction between the vaccine and a low platelet count.”

It said the decision was “contextual”, noting that “the majority of the population at risk has been vaccinated and the epidemic is under control.”

Denmark is continuing its immunisation campaign using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but said it might re-introduce the AstraZeneca jab at a later date “if the situation changes”.

The country has a stockpile of some 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Germany, which has recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine only for people aged 60 and over, is struggling to rein in a third Covid wave.

The World Health Organization and Europe’s medicines watchdog have meanwhile recommended that countries continue using the Anglo-Swedish shot, insisting it is safe and effective and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

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

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Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

Denmark has received its first supply of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for Covid-19.

Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

A first stock of Paxlovid, a tablet which can be described by doctors to combat Covid-19 symptoms, has been delivered to Denmark, health authorities confirmed in a statement.

“The first delivery has arrived today and the rest will be delivered continuously during the coming period,” the Danish Health Authority said.

Denmark has purchased 40,000 treatment courses of the medicine.

Doctors decide when to prescribe the medicine, which is suitable for adults infected with Covid-19 who are at risk of serious illness with Covid-19. It is taken over a course of five days when symptoms are still mild.

“Treatment with Paxlovid is for the patients who are at greatest risk of serious illness with Covid-19 and the treatment will be an important part of the future management of Covid-19,” the Health Authority said in the statement.

The arrival of a medicine for Covid-19 does not signal the end of vaccination which remains “the most effective measure to prevent serious illness and death,” it said.

Denmark has purchased the Paxlovid supply through a deal with pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has 2.2 million Covid-19 vaccines which have been in storage for so long that they are no longer usable, news wire Ritzau earlier reported.

The vaccines were purchased when Denmark was acquiring as many as possible during the pandemic but because they are not effective against newer variants of the coronavirus, they can no longer be used.

Another 3.6 million doses in storage at SSI can only be used for the initial two doses for as-yet unvaccinated people – who are now limited in number given Denmark’s high vaccine uptake. This means they are unusable in the current booster programme.

The cost of the 5.8 million vaccines is estimated at between 116 and 783 million kroner.