Belgium continues with AstraZeneca

17.43 Breakout of British variant at Enter primary school

An outbreak of the corona virus at primary school De Talenter in Enter is bigger than expected, Mayor Doret Tigchelaar of the Overijssel municipality of Wierden reports in a video message. “A bigger outbreak in the sense that more than fifty people are already infected,” she says.

The mayor speaks of “great concern for the community in Enter”, also because the majority of the infections are related to the British variant of the virus. This one is more contagious than the ‘normal’ corona virus.

None of the students who became infected became ill. After a contact investigation, it was decided that two hundred people will be tested preventively.

Due to the situation, Tigchelaar calls on people to adhere to the corona rules. She also asks people to get tested immediately for even the slightest symptoms.

17.31 Belgium sees no reason to stop AstraZeneca

The Belgian vaccination task force sees no reason to stop vaccinating with AstraZeneca’s vaccine after a temporary suspension in some other European countries. Norway, Denmark and Iceland decided to do so after reports of thrombosis.

The Norwegians presented three problem cases after a recent AstraZeneca vaccination on Saturday. Three health workers are treated for bleeding, blood clots and low platelet count. But authorities acknowledge that they do not know if there is a link between the vaccination and the symptoms. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam is conducting an investigation.

Until last Wednesday, thirty cases of thrombosis have been reported to the EMA following an injection of AstraZeneca, “out of a total of 5 million vaccines administered,” said Pierre Van Damme of the Belgian task force. “After weighing up the potential risks and the clear benefits, it was decided to continue the vaccination,” said Van Damme.

The chair of the vaccination task force, Dirk Ramaekers, emphasizes that the EMA continues to work with all member states and continues to check in detail how safe the vaccines are. He also states that there will be no freedom of choice for one of the authorized vaccines, except for those of AstraZeneca, also those of Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen. “Vaccine shopping is and will remain impossible,” said Ramaekers. His task force did ask recipients of the injections to report side effects after vaccination.

14.15 Five European countries want to discuss the distribution of vaccines

Not only Austria, but also the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia and Bulgaria complain that the corona vaccines are not distributed fairly between the countries of the European Union. The heads of government of the EU must address the “great inequality” as soon as possible, they say.

The leaders of the five Member States have sent a letter asking the Chairman of the Council of Heads of Government, Charles Michel, to raise the issue. Their next corona top, in two weeks, may be suitable for that. The intention is for the leaders to meet again in Brussels, says an EU source. Michel and his employees keep a close eye on what is going on, according to the initiate.

If the unfair distribution of vaccines continues like this, there will be big differences between the EU countries by the summer, according to the five Member States. “Some countries could already achieve herd immunity, while others are far behind,” they write.

Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz accused a number of member states on Friday of securing additional vaccines with secret deals. According to him, a real secret ‘bazaar’ has emerged.

The Member States can indeed get the vaccines that are due to them on the basis of their population, the European Commission maintains. But if one country thanks for its part, others can agree to take over those vaccines.

09.23 India: we are looking at side effects

Health authorities in India are further investigating possible side effects of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland decided to suspend vaccination with AstraZeneca in connection with reports of thrombosis. The countries first want to make sure there is no link between the corona vaccine and blood clots.

According to a leading physician in India, “There is no urgent cause for concern because the number of reports of adverse side effects is very small. But we are reviewing all reports and re-examining whether there are any cases of thrombosis. ”

07.06 ‘Third wave is coming’

A third corona wave can no longer be averted. Virologist Bert Niesters of the University Medical Center Groningen expresses this fear in the Nederlands Dagblad. “If we do not have lower figures by the end of next week than now, we will have a big problem.”

According to him, it is “a competition: the vaccine against the virus. And the virus is going to win that match. ” The highly contagious British variant now makes up about 90 percent of all positive tests, according to Niesters.

As far as he is concerned, there is only one remedy: vaccinate faster. “All I hear is that vaccines are left on the shelf. (…) There is still no good direction. ” For example, the vaccination of the elderly and disabled in care institutions is slower than intended.

If infection rates continue to develop as they do now, a further increase in hospital admissions will be “a matter of time,” says Niesters. He therefore warns against further relaxation, especially now that most schools are open.

07.02 Australia reports first corona case in 2 weeks

In Australia, a domestic corona virus infection has surfaced for the first time in more than two weeks. It concerns a doctor who recently treated two corona-infected patients in Brisbane, Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said. The last domestic infection was on February 24.

The patients had recently been abroad and were later found to be infected with the British variant of the virus, Palaszczuk said. Because the doctor in question was treating several patients in the meantime, the authorities urgently started a contact investigation. Also, all hospitals in Brisbane are closed to visitors as a precaution.

Australia has relatively few corona infections and deaths compared to other Western countries. The government closed its borders fairly soon after the pandemic started, put the country in lockdown and also imposed strict rules on social distance.

06.59 Working from home compulsory in Latvia

Latvia will largely make working from home mandatory from next week to contain the spread of the corona virus. The measure will apply to civil servants, state-owned companies and also large parts of the private sector, the Riga government announced.

The obligation to work from home starts on Tuesday. There are exceptions for production plants and professions for which it is necessary to work on location, such as construction. The measure is mainly intended to prevent employees from becoming infected in the office or on their way there, the Latvian government explained.

The Baltic country has seen the number of corona infections steadily increase since October last year. The government therefore imposed strict restrictions in December. Since the start of the pandemic, Latvia has registered nearly 93,000 corona infections. The Latvian death toll from Covid-19 is close to 1,750.

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