Several European countries resume vaccinations with AstraZeneca

9.10 pm – GPs: glad that we can quickly start vaccinating again

That the green light was given on Thursday for the resumption of vaccinations with the corona vaccine from AstraZeneca, is pleased with the National General Practitioners Association (LHV). According to a spokeswoman, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has “carefully researched” the drug’s potential side effects and found it to be safe for use. She says she is pleased that the GPs can now “quickly start vaccinating again.”

Before that happens, the regions of Utrecht and Flevoland must first receive the vaccines from AstraZeneca. The scarce doses of the vaccine are distributed by province at the GPs. According to the spokesperson, it may be possible to vaccinate further in Gelderland with earlier deliveries.

General practitioners use the AstraZeneca drug to prick residents in the age category of 60 to 64 years, people with Down’s syndrome and people with morbid obesity.

On Monday, the LHV said it was sensible for the cabinet to temporarily halt vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Especially because the GPs received questions from their patients in the preceding period and they wanted a clear story.

8.20 pm – European countries resume vaccinations with AstraZeneca vaccine

Several European countries are going to use AstraZeneca’s corona vaccine again now that the European medicine watchdog EMA has again ruled that it is safe. In addition to the Netherlands, this includes Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.

Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria are also going to vaccinate people again with the vaccine from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company. The first injections will be done on Friday. Some countries, including Spain and Portugal, will resume vaccinations next week. The Netherlands will also start using it again next week.

A whole row of European countries temporarily stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution. The reason was a few reports from Norway and Denmark about people who shortly after the injection suffered from a combination of thrombosis (the formation of blood clots) and a shortage of platelets. Since then, dozens of cases have been reported worldwide.

The priority is to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible, the office of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi reported. Italy suspended use of the drug on Monday. The northern Italian region of Piedmont did so the day before, after a 57-year-old man died there hours after he was vaccinated.

Norway is maintaining the suspension for the time being pending investigation into the reports in its own country. Sweden, which stopped AstraZeneca on Tuesday, said it would need a few more days to make a decision on the resumption.

4.20 pm – Norwegian experts: blood clots are caused by strong immune response

The blood clots after vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be due to the fact that the medicine can cause a powerful immune reaction, which in turn leads to the blood clots. Scientists at the University Hospital of Oslo say that is the cause of the reports that several countries have suspended the use of the vaccine as a precaution.

The immune response produces antibodies that activate platelets and cause blood clots, said researcher Pål Andre Holme. Because these antibodies are on the surface, they are removed from the circulation and patients experience a platelet deficiency. “This is a reaction that we know, but with other drugs as triggering cause,” said Holme.

In Norway, three nurses were hospitalized last week after showing a combination of blood clots and platelet deficiency. One of them later died.

2:00 pm – Germany helps Brazil with IC equipment

The German Air Force will fly eighty respirators to Brazil to assist that country in the treatment of patients. The intensive care units will be flown from Cologne to Manaus at the end of next week.

The country of 214 million inhabitants currently has more than 8,300 people who have been admitted to hospitals in critical condition as a result of a corona infection and 1.1 million people are infected but not very ill. Brazil has approximately 66,000 intensive care units. They are divided between the public health and private health institutions. However, in the vast country, the numbers of IC equipment prescribed by federal health authorities are not available everywhere. This certainly applies to the northern part of Brazil, where Manaus is located.

1:30 pm – Brussels is pushing AstraZeneca to ramp up vaccine deliveries

The European Commission is increasing pressure on AstraZeneca to deliver the vaccines that are contracted. The EU executive board is starting a formal process to resolve the conflict with the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company over the delayed deliveries of their Covid-19 vaccines to the European Union, a spokesman said.

The contract that the Commission has concluded with AstraZeneca on behalf of the 27 member states includes a dispute settlement scheme that Brussels will now use. In consultation with Member States, a letter will be sent ‘quickly’ inviting the company to sit around the table within 20 days to find a solution. The spokesperson did not want to discuss the possibility of legal action if this does not yield any results. “We will see where this first step leads.”

After arguing about the lag in deliveries to the EU in the first quarter, Brussels is now angry about the company’s announcement last week that it will not be able to deliver the second quarter that the EU was counting on.

12:40 pm – Many corona variants in Aruba

According to the Aruban government, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has now found more than a hundred cases of a mutated corona virus in Aruba. Altogether, the island now has 97 cases of the British variant, twice the South African, eight cases of the Mexican, three times the California and one case of the Brazilian variant.

The Brazilian variant in particular could lead to very severe symptoms. Preventing spread is very important to the Public Health Service. Everyone with minor complaints is called upon to be tested.

327 active infections were registered on Aruba on Wednesday. Because another corona patient has died, the death rate is now at 81. The management of the Horacio Oduber Hospital on the island says that 29 people with corona are being nursed, eleven in intensive care. According to the hospital, the virus puts a lot of pressure on medical care, which could jeopardize other care.

12.19 pm – UMCG is looking for volunteers to test new corona vaccine

The University Medical Center Groningen is looking for volunteers to test a new vaccine against the corona virus. This is the candidate vaccine AKS-452 from Akston Biosciences in the United States. “The aim of the research is to investigate the safety, tolerability and response of the immune system to the vaccine,” reports the Groningen university hospital.

For the study, the UMCG is looking for 176 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 who have not had corona. Study participants will receive one or two doses of the candidate vaccine to determine the dose at which a person has sufficient antibodies.

Akston Biosciences’ vaccine does not use the actual coronavirus, attenuated or alive. The vaccine is made up of a part of the coronavirus, the so-called spike protein, which is combined with a protein fragment of a human antibody.

10:35 am – 20,000 extra vaccinations per day in Germany

The German army is ready to open 28 vaccination centers. People can be vaccinated there day and night with corona vaccines, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.

The injection sites run by soldiers can quickly open their doors, according to the minister. The CDU politician predicts that an additional 20,000 people per day can be vaccinated, provided sufficient vaccines are available. According to Wirtschaftswoche, Kramp-Karrenbauer indirectly addresses her colleague Jens Spahn, the Minister of Health. It is about the vaccination campaign and should take the lead in bringing in the army.

Germany is already involving the army in the vaccination campaign, which started in December and is progressing too slowly, according to critics. Military personnel are deployed at existing vaccination centers and help conduct contact investigations.

3.30 am – EMA assesses possible side effects of AstraZeneca vaccine

The safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will decide on possible rare side effects of AstraZeneca’s corona vaccine on Thursday. The experts are investigating reports of clot formation in the blood (thrombosis) in the days after the injection. In addition to thrombosis, some Danes and Norwegians also suffered from a platelet deficiency.

German health authorities later added that seven people in their country suffered a stroke in the post-vaccination period. Three of them have died.

This is a small number of reports out of 5 million injections, that much is clear. As far as is known, six people in the Scandinavian countries suffered from the combination of the two blood problems, a few dozen people developed thrombosis in the week after their injection.

The most important question for the experts is whether the vaccine caused the complaints – and what that means for the further vaccinations. It could also be a coincidence. Thrombosis is common and EMA said on Tuesday that there don’t appear to be more cases among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca. However, the Netherlands and many other EU countries played it safe and stopped vaccinations as a precaution. In the UK and Belgium, politicians and experts in turn stressed how safe the vaccine is.

EMA director Emer Cooke said on Tuesday that her organization still takes the position that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine “outweigh the risk of side effects.” After all, in most cases the vaccine prevents people from becoming seriously ill from the corona virus or dying from it.

The safety committee is reviewing all available information in an accelerated procedure and will “make any recommendations necessary to minimize risks and protect the health of patients,” said EMA.

2 a.m. – Brazil records record number of corona infections in 24 hours

Brazilian health authorities have again registered a record number of corona infections in the past 24 hours. In the past 24 hours, more than 90,000 cases were added in the South American country. On Tuesday, Brazil already set a new grim day record with 2841 deaths in 24 hours.

On Wednesday, Brazilian authorities reported a further 2,648 deaths from the corona virus. That brings the total death toll in the country of 212 million residents to almost 285,000. In total, about 11.7 million infections with the lung virus have already been diagnosed. Both the Brazilian death toll and the number of infections are the second highest in the world, behind the United States in both cases.

Partly due to mutated variants, the epidemic in Brazil continues to go in the wrong direction. On Wednesday, President Bolsonaro said he was still happy that his supporters are demonstrating against rules about keeping their distance and closing shops. The president is known for wanting to keep society running as much as possible, despite the virus circulating. “Of course I was happy,” said the president, who previously dismissed the corona virus as “a flu.” “They show that people are alive. We want our freedom. We want the world to respect our constitution. ”

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