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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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now