Monday, 22 March 2021

311,448 Croatians Vaccinated, 79,209 With Both Doses

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - By Sunday, 390,657 doses of vaccine had been used with a total of 311,448 people vaccinated, including 232,239 of those who received one dose of vaccine and 79,209 who received both doses, Croatia's  COVID-19 crisis management team reported on Monday.

Medical regulator HALMED has so far received 1,896 reports of suspected side effects of vaccines against COVID-19, of which 1,064 for Pfizer, 108 for Moderna and 722 for AstraZeneca. In two cases it was not clear which vaccine caused side effects. 

The HZJZ institute head, Krunoslav Capak, said that the vaccination process was continuing according to plan, adding that the first third of the second phase of vaccination, covering persons older than 65 years and chronic patients, had been completed. He said that younger people would be prioritised after the completion of the second phase. 

He recalled that Croatia had so far ordered 8.7 million doses of vaccine from different manufacturers, adding that greater deliveries were expected in the second quarter of the year.

Average age of infected people down from 49.9 to 42.5 years

The average age of infected people has decreased from 49.9 to 42.5 years, Capak said.

The director of Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotić, said that the number of hospitalisations was increasing in Zagreb and Split, and that most of those hospitalised were aged between 50 and 60 years.

Asked by the press about the possibility of reinfection with COVID-19, Markotić cited a Danish study published in The Lancet journal showing that the protection against reinfection was about 79%.

However, people older than 65 were only about 47% protected on average. The conclusion is that people older than 65 years should be revaccinated even if they have recovered from COVID-19 because the risk of their reinfection is high. "People older than 65 are definitely more at risk," Markotić said.

Capak said that there were reports of several cases of reinfection in Croatia, but that their symptoms were mild.

Responding to a question about COVID passports for people who were vaccinated with the Chinese or Russian vaccine, the head of the national response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that talks had only just begun on issuing interoperable certificates at EU level to facilitate travel and that the situation in this regard would be clearer later this month.

"Some of the EU countries have taken the view that such certificates should be issued only for vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency. Croatia is not in that group of countries, but talks on this are still ongoing," Božinović said.

If the purpose of such certificates is to facilitate travel for those who have been tested, vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19, Božinović hopes that this will not put too tight restrictions on the tourism sector because most EU countries started by vaccinating elderly people, who are in a more advantageous position that young people as far as travel is concerned.

This issue should be dealt with by early June, but that does not mean that countries like Croatia will not do all they can to alleviate the situation in the tourism sector by then, Božinović said.

As for demands by some of the counties in Croatia for stricter measures, Božinović said that it was yet to be seen what local and county response teams would decide this week. He ruled out the possibility of passes being introduced for inter-regional travel in Croatia for the Easter holidays. He said that the aim was to contain the epidemic in the counties with higher incidence rates, adding that steps had already been taken to inspect compliance with the measures in place.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Epidemiologist Bernard Kaic: 8 Infected with UK Coronavirus Variant, In Croatia Since January

February 10, 2021 – At today's Civil Protection Headquarters' press conference, Croatian epidemiologist Bernard Kaic stated that there are eight more infected with the British variant of coronavirus in Croatia. Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that the virus has been present in Croatia since January 20th, 2021.

In the past 24 hours, 577 new cases have been recorded, so the number of active cases in Croatia today is 2596. Among them, 1,055 patients are in hospital, of which 92 are on respirators. Fourteen people died. Epidemiologist Bernard Kaić said that the number of infections in Croatia is decreasing from week to week.

"These 577 cases are less than last week. The share of positives among those tested is also falling. However, these are still large numbers compared to spring. The daily incidence is 146 per 100,000. We are among the better in the EU; only four countries have a lower incidence. As for the counties, the lowest incidence of 14 days is in Istria County with 42 per 100,000, followed by Požega-Slavonia County with 63, and the highest in Split-Dalmatia County," Kaić said.

He added that 655 side effects had been reported on the Pfizer vaccine and 17 on the Moderna vaccine to date. As he says, side effects were expected. Twenty-nine allergic reactions have been reported, but all have passed without any consequences.

Samples of the new variant taken at the end of January

Alemka Markotić talked about the British variant of coronavirus that appeared in Croatia today. The first three cases have been confirmed.

"Colleagues from the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) said they had preliminary results for eight patients, but they will inform the public in more detail. As for the samples we confirmed, one is a 50-year-old man from the Family Medicine Practice; the clinic has no data on his clinical state. There is a 3,5-year-old child, who had symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, and the parents are positive. A third is a 34-year-old man, and we have no information about him," Markotić said.

She added that what they found was no surprise and that it was a matter of time when the new variant of coronavirus would be detected in Croatia. It was good that a significant number of new patients connected with the new variant could not be seen. However, she stressed that we still need to be very responsible, vigilant, and adhere to measures.

Kaić said that there is no data for these eight positive cases yet. It is only known that the samples were taken in the second half of January. They still do not know all the contacts of the infected with the new strain, but they have been working on it since early morning. They will undoubtedly be required to be in self-isolation.

"Those eight infected are from Zagreb, Sisak, and Vukovar-Srijem County. Samples were taken in the second half of January. That means we had a new strain back then. We need to do everything we can to reduce the spread of the new variant so as not to increase the incidence," Kaić said.

Beroš: All three types of vaccines are effective

"It is crucial to detect the new variant's existence by sequencing methods we have undertaken, and it is important to respond epidemiologically to new challenges. The whole of Europe is on alert. This is an opportunity to show responsible behavior once again. Our vigilance has created a good basis for a new fight. We will have to balance between milder and stricter measures," said Health Minister Vili Beroš.

As for the vaccines, Beroš said that the vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine has begun. The vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna will continue, and the second phase will start when it is the turn of senior citizens and people with comorbidities.

He stressed that none of the vaccines in Croatia have age restrictions. Regardless of the effectiveness' percentages, all three vaccines in the 100 percent range prevent the onset of the most severe forms of the disease, hospitalization, and death.

"We use what is available, and these are three types of vaccines that the whole world considers to be effective," Beroš said.

The most vulnerable are a priority in vaccination

Journalists asked the Civil Protection Headquarters about the University of Zagreb rector Damir Boras, who was allegedly vaccinated "before his turn", which caused a great deal of public attention.

"I immediately asked for a statement, and I condemn the vaccination before your turn. We have adopted a vaccination plan. The deprivation of the rights of the most vulnerable is not acceptable. I will wait for a response from the Rebro Clinical Hospital Center, and we will see. I appeal to all those who carry out vaccination to do it according to the vaccination plan," said Beroš.

When asked how they decide what to do with unused doses, Kaić said there is no prescribed protocol.

"A common-sense protocol is to vaccinate someone interested rather than throw away the vaccine, especially when we don't have enough vaccine, regardless of who is vaccinated to get another dose when needed. Likewise, suppose it is possible to start vaccinating in dispensaries, and somewhere the last user of a nursing home or the last health worker in the area has not yet been given. In that case, the first phase of vaccination inevitably overlaps with the second. Where would we come from not giving the vaccine we have. Decent quantities have arrived this week; next week, they are coming again. If we do not give the vaccine until the first phase is resolved, it would be harmful to delay vaccination," said Kaić.

Beroš said he did not believe the rumors that people were getting vaccinated before their turn. He said he condemned such actions. "We are all equal, but the most vulnerable must have priority," he said.

Božinović: New decision on measures to protect both people and economy

When asked by journalists about how a new variant of coronavirus entered Croatia, Alemka Markotić answered – by human migration.

"We will try to find out in detail where they were imported from. But viruses migrate along with humans. It would not be like that if there were no such migrations. It is a variant that is spreading faster. It is among us, and we must adhere to the measures in force to prevent the spread, such as in Ireland, Portugal. The whole world is in fear of spreading. If the health care system is burdened, the number of dead will also increase. In Germany, they are proposing even stricter measures," Markotić said.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović commented on the easing of measures.

"We have to pay attention to the new strain, but that is not a reason to panic. We have to monitor the situation in European countries. Each country reacted differently, and all this happens when vaccination does not go as planned. We must also take into account the forecast announcing low temperatures. So, we will take all this into account," Božinović said.

He added that a new variant of the coronavirus has been present in Croatia since January 20, 2021, since the numbers of newly infected people have been falling.

"The new variant will also be discussed at the Scientific Council to make a decision that will protect people, but also which must be rational for economic activities," Božinović said.

A new strain of coronavirus will be detected by random testing, and Markotić said they would also react as soon as they notice that someone has come from abroad or that there are more hospitalized or infected in an area. It takes about two weeks to complete the whole process because a regular PCR test does not do it, but the process is more complicated.

Sources:, Jutarnji list

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Friday, 22 January 2021

Plenković: EU Must Insist on Agreements Reached with Pharmaceutical Companies

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - The European Council agrees that the EU must insist on the agreements reached with pharmaceutical companies on the quantities and deliveries of vaccines against coronavirus, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday.

"We have asked the European Commission president to insist in talks with Pfizer and Moderna, and hopefully soon with AstraZeneca as well, on the agreed quantities of vaccine and dynamics of delivery so that people can be vaccinated as soon as possible," Plenković told a press conference in Zagreb following a virtual conference of the European Council on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night.

Croatia started administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after Christmas, while Moderna's vaccine arrived last week and the initial shipment was sent to the earthquake-devastated Petrinja area. The European Medicines Agency is expected to approve AstraZeneca's vaccine on 29 January.

"It is fascinating that processes that otherwise take 10 years were finalised within a year and that we, not just Croatia but the EU and all countries in the world as well, were able to get a vaccine for a new disease so quickly," Plenković said.

He said that many EU leaders had expressed concern about new strains of the coronavirus, including a more contagious one in the United Kingdom.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Almost 46,000 Croats Vaccinated, Second Shot to be Given as of 18 Jan

ZAGREB, 17 January, 2021 - By mid-January 45,906 people in Croatia have received the first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the second shot will be administered as of 18 January, the Croatian Institute of Public Health said on Sunday.

The second dose will be given to people who have been vaccinated across the country since 27 December.

All persons inoculated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine need to receive the second shot three weeks after the first. 

The World Health Organization says the optimal gap between the two shots of that vaccine, the first to be registered in the EU, is 21 to 28 days. According to clinical studies, it should not exceed six weeks.

4,757 people vaccinated in quake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County

In Sisak-Moslavina County, which was hit by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake on 29 December, 4,757 people have been vaccinated. Besides local inhabitants, many of whom lost their homes, members of emergency services and volunteers who stayed in the area after the tremor were also vaccinated.

Inoculation with Moderna's vaccine began on 13 January in Sisak-Moslavina County and among members of emergency services before their going to the quake-hit areas. The gap between the two shots of this vaccine is a minimum four weeks.

Coronavirus vaccination in Croatia began on 27 December and the first to be vaccinated was a female resident of a Zagreb retirement home.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Green-Left Bloc Refuse to Get Vaccinated Under Priority Vaccination Programme for MPs

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - The parliamentary group of the Green-Left Bloc have refused to undergo vaccination against COVID-19 as part of a priority vaccination programme for MPs, saying that there is not enough vaccine at this point and the doses intended for them should be administered to health workers and vulnerable groups.

"All members of the Green-Left Bloc want to get vaccinated against coronavirus and support the vaccination of as many people as possible. What's more, we think the vaccination is the only way for us to get back to at least a semblance of normality and halt the pandemic that has turned all our lives upside down," the group said in a statement on their Facebook page on Friday.

They said that, like ordinary citizens, they had contacted their GPs and signed up for vaccination as soon as there was enough vaccine for the general public.

A third of lawmakers, or 51, have signed up for vaccination, scheduled for Monday at 1pm.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković has said it is important that MPs get vaccinated in order to send a message as politicians that vaccination is necessary and important and that it can help in the fight against COVID-19. He dismissed claims that it was lawmakers' privilege.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Cakovec Woman, 82, Dies of Heart Attack: Minister Beros - Unrelated to Vaccine

January 5, 2021 – Health Minister Vili Beroš stated that an older woman in Cakovec died of a heart attack the day after receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Beroš said she was negative for coronavirus and her death had nothing to do with the vaccine.

At today's press conference of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, Health Minister Vili Beroš said that an 82-year-old woman from a nursing home in Čakovec died on December 28, 2020, after receiving a coronavirus vaccine the day before. He explained the whole situation.

"After the vaccination on December 27, 2020 between 2 and 4 pm, the lady was checked and was in good condition. The next morning, on December 28, the epidemiologist checked her condition through the head nurse at the nursing home, which was also good. Sometime around 5 pm that day, the lady's clinical condition worsened. An ambulance was called, but the woman died an hour later in the nursing home," said Beroš.

According to the autopsy findings, the patient was negative for coronavirus. She died of cardiac decompensation, i.e., heart failure. The patient was a chronic patient. She had asthma and a probe, a tube that is inserted through the nose for feeding. The patient was lying down and could not walk.

Due to her health condition, especially asthma, the epidemiologist estimated that the person needed to be vaccinated, and she died of a heart attack a day later.

"The Commission in the Ministry of Health has not proven that the cause of death was related to vaccination. Suppose our most vulnerable people are vaccinated, which will sometimes mean patients with high comorbidity. In that case, it is always possible (as has already happened in the world and some neighboring countries) that someone will die without it being related to vaccination," Beroš said.

This event has been reported to the Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices HALMED, as a potential suspicious side effect and will be further evaluated. However, the Commission at the Ministry of Health considers that the patient's death is not related to the coronavirus vaccination.

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