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.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Only Two Countries Worse Than Croatia in Terms of EU Vaccine Share

March the 14th, 2021 - From being one of the best countries in the entire world when it came to handling the coronavirus pandemic to one of the worst and almost back again, it has been a rollercoaster ride for Croatia as the spread of the novel coronavirus and its accompanying variants continues. Despite the much talked about vaccine finally being here, things are not going smoothly in a deeply embarrassing twist for the EU, and the EU vaccine share is leaving Croatia in the lurch.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Republic of Croatia is one of the biggest losers when it comes to the distribution of vaccines within the European Union, ie it is one of the countries that are most deprived of the delivered doses of vaccines in relation to the number of inhabitants, with only Latvia and Bulgaria being worse off than us.

The calculations of well-informed EU officials, who for obvious reasons wished to remain anonymous, show that Croatia would be deprived of almost 150,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine in such a distribution, and the real result of that deep inequality will be seen only in the second quarter, Vecernji list reported. At the same time, some countries are profiting greatly from these strange calculations of doses and arrangements within the Vaccination Steering Committee, a body set up by the European Commission (EC) to help them.

Although EU member states have agreed that the distribution of vaccines is key, in terms of population, which is only fair and correct, the data shows that this principle is not being respected in reality. Croatia, whose population accounts for 0.91 percent of the EU's total population, had received 394,170 doses by March the 9th, which represents a negative trend even at that early stage of the EU vaccine share/rollout.

The delivery rate for each EU country in relation to the number of inhabitants shows that Croatia would be in the red by as much as 27 percent, which - translated into a vaccine - would mean 148,522 doses less than it deserves, according to data collected by EU officials which Vecernji was privy to.

The worst of all is Latvia with a negative rate of 62 percent and a deficit of 158,946 doses, Bulgaria with a minus of 59 percent and less than 545,281 doses, followed by Croatia. At the top of the scale in terms of the EU vaccine share, among the winners, is Malta, which is in the ¨plus¨ with an enviable rate of 155 percent, Germany with 11 percent and Denmark with 10 percent.

The problem of unequal treatment and deviation from the agreement was warned of recently by no less than Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who pointed a finger directly at the Vaccine Steering Committee, boldly and openly calling it "a bazaar where vaccines are traded."

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