Sunday, 7 February 2021

AstraZeneca Vaccine Arrives as Croatian Vaccination Process Continues

February the 7th, 2021 - Croatian epidemiologist Iva Pem Novosel from the Croatian Institute of Public Health answered several questions for HTV after 16,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Croatia and the Croatian vaccination process hopes for a ramp up.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this is only the first lot, and by the end of the month, more than 150,000 more doses will arrive, according to HTV.

"Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines are also coming in, so we'll finally have a sufficient amount of vaccines and we'll finally be able to start the second phase of the national plan for the implementation of vaccination against the novel coronavirus," the Novosel told HTV.

Protection against a more severe form of coronavirus and death

Distribution by county is set to follow, as the Croatian vaccination process will initially begin at family doctor's/GP's offices or at vaccination points, about which citizens will be informed. Some European countries have decided not to vaccinate those over the age of 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but in Croatia they say there is no need for such a move.

The reason for that is too little research and insufficient information about the effectiveness of the vaccine itself. All those who have decided to receive another coronavirus vaccine are free to do so but will have to wait until other doses of the desired vaccine arrive.

"Of course they'll be able to wait for another vaccine, but there are also a lot of misunderstandings involved. The effectiveness of the vaccine among the elderly doesn't mean that it is lower. Any vaccine given to the elderly elicits a slightly weaker immune response. This is common knowledge, so that's the case with any vaccine manufacturer. As for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the older age group, there was too small a sample, so the efficacy that was obtained can't really be properly interpreted, and we actually expect it to boast the same effectiveness as it did in the other age groups,'' explained Pem Novosel.

In some counties, in addition to GP's offices, special vaccination points will be organised in coordination with the Ministry of Health. It was said that doctors from the Ministry of Health had received a letter that special vaccination points would be organised, and mobile teams would be formed for precisely that purpose, and that there would be fewer of those who would vaccinate in the surgeries themselves.

At the level of the Ministry of Health, a special platform is also being organised to which all those who have not previously communicated with their GP's will be able to apply for vaccination as it is rolled out across the country.

As for the AstraZeneca vaccine itself, we know that it is registered for those over eighteen years of age, and that the effectiveness in preventing the disease is 60 percent, but also that all those who received the vaccine didn't develop a more severe form of the disease, nor were any of them hospitalised.

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Monday, 1 February 2021

Croatia Will Get Russian Vaccine If It Asks for It, Says Ambassador

ZAGREB, 1 February, 2021 - Croatia will get the Russian COVID-19 vaccine if it asks for it, Russian Ambassador Andrey Nesterenko said in an interview with the Monday issue of the Večernji List daily.

EU countries, including Croatia, have been having difficulty obtaining pre-ordered vaccines and Russia is willing to provide 100 million doses in the second quarter, as confirmed to the daily by Ambassador Nesterenko.

Even though Croatia has still not officially asked Russia for the vaccine, Nesterenko says that the head of a research group at Zagreb's Ruđer Bošković Institute, Dragomira Meichen, is Croatia's representative on the international scientific council for the Sputnik V vaccine and that the platform for consultations with Croatian experts already exists.

Sputnik V has a number of advantages that greatly simplify the delivery of the vaccine worldwide - it is stored at temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, which makes it possible to keep it in an ordinary refrigerator, and the price per dose is less than US$ 10, which makes the vaccine affordable for many countries, the diplomat said.

The ambassador also said that the Russian vaccine could play an important role in the fight against the pandemic and be used in UN missions.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has therefore expressed hope that the World Health Organisation would approve the vaccine as soon as possible, the diplomat said.

He noted that Russia had so far received orders for the purchase of 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine from more than 50 countries.

Nesterenko added that the vaccine was being actively used in Russia, with vaccination conducted not only in hospitals but also in shopping malls and other venues. He added that a centre for the vaccination of foreign nationals had been opened in Moscow and that some of the foreign ambassadors serving in Russia had been vaccinated with Sputnik V.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Should Croatian Tourism Workers Have Coronavirus Vaccination Priority?

January the 23rd, 2021 - Should Croatian tourism workers, who are among those who have suffered the most damage throughout the duration of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic be prioritised for vaccination? According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the answer is yes.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Ministry of Tourism has asked the Croatian Institute of Public Health to place Croatian tourism workers on the priority list for vaccination against the novel coronavirus in order to maximise the safety of tourists and further fuel the perception that Croatia is a safe holiday destination in 2021.

To this end, in cooperation with professional associations, a large survey is currently being conducted across all parts of the aforementioned sector in order to determine the interest among Croatian tourism workers.

This was confirmed recently by the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Brnjac, explaining that this activity was defined at the beginning of this week at the meeting of the Council for the Recovery and Development of Tourism, where they talked about the realisation of Croatian tourism in 2021.

We don't want a Covid ''passport''

Brnjac reiterated that Croatia is not thinking about using Covid passports, which are being talked about more and more on a global and European level. Namely, after Greece raised the issue with numerous European institutions last week, this week Spain also announced that it would introduce vaccination certificates and a kind of register of those who have been vaccinated, in order to speed up the return of tourism.

"Croatia won't go in that direction, but we'll continue to work on the introduction of safety protocols and health standards, and we'll use that in our promotional campaigns. As it is known, in addition to the Safe Travels label we received from the World Tourism Council (WTTC), we're also introducing our national Safe stay label, with detailed protocols in all segments.

70 percent of the bloc's total population could be vaccinated by the summer, according to European Union plans

All those interested will be able to get this tag for free, and use it in their own promotion. With all these measures, the vaccine is a remarkable thing for tourism, which will contribute to the return of normal tourist traffic. That's why we talked to the members at the Council, to see what the interest of the tourism sector is.

Namely, as hoteliers have organised voluntary flu vaccinations for their employees, they're now busy surveying how many Croatian tourism workers are interested in receiving the new coronavirus vaccine, so that figures that can be talked to the CNIPH about can be obtained. This will help us prepare well for this season and send out the message all those who want to be vaccinated in the Croatian tourism sector should be vaccinated, ie that, in addition to healthcare workers and other professions, Croatian tourism workers should also be a priority,'' explained Brnjac.

No restriction of movement

The survey is also promoted and conducted on its website by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK). "As the Ministry of Tourism and Sports has received several requests from employers on the importance of vaccinating Croatian tourism workers who are in direct contact with guests, members of the Council were asked to conduct a survey of company interests to be included in the vaccination process for coronavirus protection and an estimate of the number of workers who would opt for vaccination as soon as possible.

On behalf of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the presidents of the Association and the Communities of the Department of Tourism have been appointed as members of the Council, and we've been asked to conduct a survey among the members, which is still open,'' the Chamber pointed out.

The European Union's tourism sector, as well as the national governments of member states, are intensively considering the best way to promote vaccinated travellers and tourists in some way, without discriminating against travellers who, for various reasons, will not be vaccinated until spring or summer, when the European Union plans for 70 percent of its total population to possibly be vaccinated.

The meeting of the heads of national governments of the EU held a few days ago also discussed the introduction of a kind of health certificate, but Brnjac believes that the unified position of the Union will not go in the direction of any restriction of movement.

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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.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Health Official Says Not Satisfied With Pace of Vaccine Delivery

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Friday that he was not satisfied with the pace of COVID-19 vaccine delivery and that the vaccination plan would have to be changed because less than planned supplies were being delivered.

"We are not satisfied with the delivery, it is far below what we agreed. What makes the situation more difficult is that at the beginning we were given larger quantities of the vaccine and in the meantime they have decreased," Capak said at a news conference of the national coronavirus crisis management team.

"We will manage to vaccinate everyone who has been given the first dose of the vaccine but new vaccinations will have to be suspended as we do not have new vaccine supplies to begin administering the Pfizer vaccine," Capak said.

He added that Pfizer had reduced its deliveries for the next month by 30%.

Moderna, too, has changed the amount of the vaccine to be delivered, the delivery is a week late and it was promised that 11,000 doses would be delivered after February 1, he said.

"We must change the vaccination schedule because at the moment we do not have enough of the Pfizer vaccine to increase the number of people to be vaccinated but are keeping it for the second round of vaccination," he said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be registered on 29 January, its fast distribution has been promised and additional quantities, promised after the 29 December earthquake, are expected from the EU.

Capak says that the rate of inoculation of the population depends on vaccine deliveries but that with greater quantities of the AstraZeneca vaccine and all the other vaccines, it is possible to achieve a high rate of inoculation of the general population by summer.

He said that the epidemiological situation in the country had improved but that there was a danger of new virus strains and that one should also take into account the situation in the earthquake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County when considering possible relaxation of restrictions.

He said that compared to the previous week, there was a 21% drop in the number of new infections. The incidence is highest in Sisak-Moslavina County, which has a rate of 428 infections per 100,000 people, and it is lowest in Istria, with 114.5 new infections per 100,000 people.

The share of new infections in the tests done is 12.3%, which puts Croatia in 13th place in the EU. So far 64,951 people have been vaccinated, and in Sisak-Moslavina County 5,863 have been vaccinated, said Capak.

Markotić: New virus mutations put us where we were a year ago

The head of Zagreb's Dr Fran Mihaljević hospital for infectious diseases, Alemka Markotić, said that the third variant of the virus originated in Brazil and that it differed from the strains in Great Britain and South Africa.

It seems this virus could partly bypass the response of antibodies in persons who have developed immunity either because they got infected or were vaccinated, and that can also affect serological testing, she warned.

The entire EU is agreed that virus genome sequencing should be stepped up, she said, warning that coronavirus was prone to mutation and sought new ways to spread.

As for possible relaxation of anti-epidemic measures, she called for caution, citing the winter season, which facilitated the spread of the virus.

Even though vaccines seem to be effective against the strain from Great Britain, one should follow new mutations and adapt diagnostic tests to the new variants, she said.

The European Commission believes that the new variants of the virus put us back where we were a year ago when it appeared. Everyone hopes that the existing vaccines and tests will be appropriate for new variants but we have to be extremely cautious to prevent them from spreading, Markotić said.

Božinović: Measures to be defined at meeting on Sunday 

The head of the national coronavirus crisis management team, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, declined to comment on the possible relaxation of epidemiological restrictions, saying that members of the coronavirus crisis management team and government ministers would meet on Sunday to discuss the topic.

He stressed that there was no draft for the relaxation of restrictions in the hospitality sector, an issue raised in recent days by the national hospitality sector association.

Božinović confirmed that inspections had been stepped up in ski resorts and spas and that so far 99 fines had been collected for failure to wear a face mask and 853 warnings had been issued.

He also said that the EU was ready to provide financial assistance for virus genome sequencing in the member-states.

"The European Commission wants the member-countries to sequence at least five percent of positive COVID-19 tests. We must step up our efforts to prevent potential damage from new strains," said Božinović.

Earlier in the day, the team said that in the last 24 hours, 643 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed and 32 people had died of the consequences of the coronavirus infection.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Alemka Markotic Discusses Vaccine, Virus, Measures and Earthquake

January the 17th, 2021 - Dr Alemka Markotic, the director of Zagreb's "Dr Fran Mihaljevic'' Clinic for Infectious Diseases discussed the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine, the virus itself, the current anti-epidemic measures and the effect the earthquake has had on the spread of the contagion in a recent interview for Croatian Radio.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Alemka Markotic discussed how the novel coronavirus has succeeded in spread around the world in the past year, she also spoke about the epidemiological situation in Sisak-Moslavina County after the earthquake, how vaccination is proceeding, the various new virus strains and the current epidemiological measures in place.

Alemka Markotic pointed out that the number of new coronavirus patients is falling across Croatia and that this means a lot for patients who do unfortunately require medical care when they become infected because they can now be offered better care. She noted that the negative trend is also excellent for healthcare professionals who were previously under great pressure. She added that we're still deep in the colder winter months and that this is the sort of weather which goes hand in hand with the spread of diseases which can be transmitted via droplets from sneezing, coughing and the like.

She stressed that there are many factors that affect the spread of the virus, but also that certain changes do normally occur in it as well. The population of certain areas and the age of people exposed to various infections are also important to take into account.

''On the other hand, we're witnessing that while the situation is very difficult, no one is questioning the measures. As soon as it is seen that the situation is easing and the number of infected and the number of deaths is falling, both the measures and those who put the measures in place are immediately questioned. We've seen in other countries that have allowed themselves a little more relaxation that the situation has become bad again, with the penetration of the virus spreading rapidly,'' she said.

''There are certain professions, activities, which are unfortunately more affected by this lockdown of sorts. Some of them managed to find an alternative to survive in some way, if nothing else, and sadly some failed to do that,'' stated Alemka Markotic, adding that there is nothing that has no price that comes with it.

''It's the same as when you take medicine, it will in most cases cure and protect you. But it can also have side effects, harmful effects, and even when you know that a particular drug has greater harmful effects, you'll take it because it will save your life, and you agree to the part where that drug will cause some unpleasant consequences for you, which may be permanent,'' she said.

When asked whether the whole of the month of February will continue to go on under anti-epidemic restrictions, Alemka Markotic said that the situation is constantly being monitored and the measures have not been set in stone. That the situation continues to be fluid.

''Everything that can be and tried to be gradually released, as was done back during that first wave, will surely be done in a similar way now. Only now we have an additional problem on our hands because there's a lot more in place. The virus has spread around the world in this one single year. Secondly, as we create obstacles for it, it finds new ways to get to us, genetically, it finds ways to spread faster. It’s a game between us and the virus that is carrying on,'' she said.

Croatia is not an island...

Speaking about the infection rate, Alemka Markotic said that Croatia was among the countries that didn't insist on the so-called traffic light system. She also mentioned that Croatia is not an island and that it is important what the situation is in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia and other countries.

''It's also important what time of year it is, whether we'll have tourists or not, whether we'll go on trips or not, whether there are some holidays or festivities, whether there are any activities where people will be more mobile. It's mobility that is very conducive to the spread of the virus. These are the times where sometimes you try to be better, sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you're not 100% the best. There's no one who has been perfect in this past year. You saw that Croatia was among the best in the world for a while, and then for a short time, we were among the absolute worst. Most other countries experience the same thing. Unfortunately, there are those countries which are constantly very poor and those who do more or less okay due to some demographic and social characteristics,'' she explained.

Alemka Markotic understands that it is very difficult to live in uncertainty, and she emphasised that she is extremely optimistic that there is now a vaccine. 

''It would be a shame to get the virus now, become seriously ill, and God forbid die, and the vaccine is already there, right at your fingertips. If this dynamic of vaccine delivery is fast enough, some kind of end to the pandemic can now be seen, which again depends on how many people will get the vaccination and how much they will accept it. On the other hand, we could just go ahead an promise that March the 1st will be the day when we lift all of the measures, and then situations happen that prevent that from happening and you just can’t fulfill that promise, I don't know what the greater torment is. They're both awful situations to live in - to wait and not see what the date will be, when you might be able to breathe a little and live easier. Or to have one promise and experience severe disappointment,'' said Alemka Markotic.

She reiterated that a lot of people cannot tolerate the current situation in the long run, that everyone has had enough of everything, but that we simply have to find a way to endure it for now.

Earthquake-affected areas

She also spoke about the epidemiological situation in Sisak-Moslavina County after the earthquake and reminded everyone that after the earthquake in Zagreb in March, not many people came to the capital from all parts of Croatia, as is the case with Banovina, where people from abroad have been coming to deliver aid.

''In the area of ​​Sisak-Moslavina County, even before the earthquake, the number of infected people began to grow sharply. Then the earthquake occurred. A lot of people with the best intentions are coming to visit the area and are coming from all parts of Croatia on their own initiative to help. I think we'll see the consequences of that in the long run. But then again, the situation is different because we have the vaccine and rapid antigen tests, which we didn’t have at the time of the first earthquake in Zagreb last spring. I'm not so pessimistic about the situation, but I believe that some increased numbers could be seen there, as well as the spread of the virus in other environments from which people came,'' she pointed out.

How can we actually achieve collective immunity against the novel coronavirus? When asked whether collective immunity is a myth or a reality, Alemka Markotic said that it isn't a myth, but that the question is with what and how it can be achieved.

She mentioned the example of measles and said that it was also a droplet disease "which can be transmitted in a similar way as the novel coronavirus".

''For centuries now, a lot of people got sick and died until a vaccine came along. When collective immunity was achieved with the vaccine, only then were we able to curb measles. Influenza is transmitted in a similar way, but here we have a situation where the virus is changing. Its genome is composed of several parts, and such viruses are subject to more frequent changes. It changes and collective immunity is never achieved and won't ever be achieved by a lot of people contracting and then recovering from the flu. That's why we have vaccines and we monitor the virus and its changes so that we manage to produce a very adequate vaccine every time it changes. Where vaccination rates are high, we have an excellent level of protection. With the novel coronavirus, there are now two questions - how many people will be willing to get vaccinated, as we've seen it affects all groups of people, as well as the most fragile are the elderly with additional chronic diseases. Another thing is how its changes and its genome will affect those vaccines. Mutant strains of the virus have been recorded in Ireland, the United Kingdom, several in Greece, about 30 in France and Italy, and in Croatia we haven't yet confirmed its existence. Its spread is influenced by the mobility of people,'' Alemka Markotic pointed out.

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Saturday, 16 January 2021

When Will Vaccination of Majority of Croatian Residents Begin?

January the 16th, 2021 - The vaccine is finally here and countries across the world are rolling out vaccinations en masse in an attempt to declare the end of the coronavirus pandemic. PM Andrej Plenkovic recently stated that the government had upped its vaccine order and that the plan was to vaccinate most of the population by the end of April. Speaking practically, however, when will the majority of Croatian residents be vaccinated?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the head of the branch office of the Institute of Public Health on the island of Krk, Dr. Lovorka Nemec Strcic said as a guest on the show "Studio 4" that the plan of the Institute of Public Health on the island of Krk is to start vaccinating citizens over 65 and those who have underlying conditions/are chronically ill in the middle of next week.

"We'd start next week with a smaller number of people, and it all depends on how many doses of the vaccine will be made available to us," she said. She emphasised that the dynamics of further vaccination of Croatian residents will also depend on the amount of vaccines which arrive. Nemec Strcic pointed out that the implementation of vaccination was planned in the Northern Adriatic city of Rijeka, at as many as three different points, and in other parts of the county there would be branches of the Teaching Institute doing so.

The President of the Coordination of Croatian Family Medicine, dr. med. Natasa Ban Toskic said that until yesterday morning, no doctor had received an official notification as to when the vaccination of Croatian residents would start, nor has the amount of vaccine doses and at what rate the population would be vaccinated been explained.

"Organisationally speaking, we don't really know anything yet," said Dr. Natasa Ban Toskic, adding that although family doctors have long been appointed as the most important vaccination providers, they are not communicated with as partners, but they instead receive most of their information through the media or in the form of orders or short e-mails on a day to day basis. She added that there is no real cooperation to speak of in this regard.

Lovorka Nemec Strcic said that the cooperation of her Institute with family doctors does exist, but when it comes to the general vaccination process of Croatian residents, nothing has been defined as yet. She added that it will most likely be epidemiologists doing the vaccinating at the beginning, and only in Rijeka. Vaccination will not be possible in other parts of the county next week. Nemec Strcic said that Croatian residents will be vaccinated with those vaccines that the Institute of Public Health of the island of Krk will have, and that the organisation of the vaccination itself is demanding.

Ban Toskic added that the Coordination of Croatian Family Medicine had sent out a letter to all relevant institutions back in November, in which they pointed out the problems that could occur, adding their own proposals in order to try to make things easier.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Minister Vili Beros: One Million Croats Vaccinated Before End of March?

January the 13th, 2021 - Could Croatia manage to vaccinate one million Croatian residents before the end of March? According to Health Minister Vili Beros, it's not only possible but deeply desired.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Health Minister Vili Beros said there was going to be no easing of any anti-epidemic measures as yet, adding that the epidemiological situation across Croatia was now better and that the pressure on the healthcare system, which has been terrible of late, was finally diminishing.

"I want to believe that this is the result of the responsibility of people, but it also showcases the full meaning of what our measures are. We must not do anything that would jeopardise these positive trends, especially if we look at the events going on in Croatia's surrounding countries, the so-called the third wave. This is the possible consequence of socialising more indoors during the festive period, and also with regard to the specific situation in Croatia, which are the tragic events in Sisak-Moslavina County. Circumstances there can contribute to the spread of the epidemic, so we must be careful,'' Minister Vili Beros warned to Dnevnik HTV.

Interest in the vaccine

When asked how satisfied he was with how vaccination is going in Croatia, he said that the government had done everything possible to provide the vaccine.

"There's a lot of interest in it, and more vaccines are needed. People have put their faith in science, in the profession, in medicine. We need to reach a vaccination rate of more than 70 percent, and I believe we'll achieve that. There are 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving per week, there'll be 264,000 doses by the end of March. Moderna's vaccine is coming today, and there'll be a total of 52,000 doses of that by the end of February, the good news is that AstraZeneca has made progress too and the EMA will approve the vaccine on January the 29th. It's realistically possible that we'll be able to vaccinate a million people in Croatia by the end of March,'' said Minister Vili Beros.

Minister Vili Beros said private healthcare workers will be vaccinated in late January and in early February. The priority in vaccination, he reiterated, are those most vulnerable people living in homes for the elderly, employees of the social welfare system and healthcare workers. In the second phase, those over 65 with chronic illness or underlying diseases will be vaccinated, and those younger than 65 will be vaccinated at the end of February and at the beginning of March, depending on the dynamics of vaccine delivery.

The conditions in the earthquake-stricken Sisak hospital...

He commented on the situation in the Sisak hospital, saying that when it comes to statics, technical elements, the profession must have its say first.

"Engineers are evaluating the situation in the Sisak hospital. The surgical building is safe, according to the profession, unlike other buildings,'' he said.

The coronavirus crisis has cost a lot, he pointed out and stated that more than 1.132 billion kuna was spent on testing, treatment and sick leave, 82 million kuna on special drugs, 420 million kuna on vaccines, equaling a total of 1.634 billion kuna.

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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Branko Kolaric: Could Croatia Place Restrictions on Unvaccinated People?

January the 12th, 2021 - Croatian Epidemiologist Branko Kolaric has discussed the vaccination process for healthcare professionals, the elderly and the most vulnerable, and some of the rules other countries might consider bringing in for those who do not vaccinate against the novel coronavirus.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Croatian Institute of Public Health says that by the end of January and through February, a good part of the elderly, vulnerable and patients with chronic health complaints and other diseases who are in the second group are expected to be vaccinated. This will then be immediately followed by the third phase, so everyone else should be there by the time spring rolls around.

A member of the Government's Scientific Council, epidemiologist Branko Kolaric, said more about this in Dnevnik Nova TV.

As he said, Croatia is currently vaccinating people with a small number of doses. "At this rate, we should be able to vaccinate about fifty percent of the population in two years. Now the limiting factor is the number of doses we have available. We hope to register some more vaccines soon and when we get more doses, then we’ll be able to speed up the pace of vaccination. Now we’re still under one percent of people in Croatia vaccinated, but it is still at the level of the European Union,’’ said Branko Kolaric.

Regarding KOHOM's proposal to vaccinate people in large areas, he says that this is one of the possibilities when there are enough vaccines available in the country.

“Once we have a large number of doses available, this is one of the possibilities so that we can get people vaccinated faster. That will only be when we will have hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine at our disposal,’’ Branko Kolaric explained.

Germany is now going into a stricter lockdown, and Branko Kolaric hopes that this will not happen to Croatia. "We’re on the descent of the second wave. All countries are now preparing for the third wave, which is associated with the festive period and more indoor socialising. We’ll have to see how it develops in our country. At the moment, the situation is favourable, epidemiologically speaking - we’re seeing the effects of the measures we’ve introduced,’’ said Branko Kolaric.

There have been several cases of coronavirus infection occurring even after vaccination against the disease, but Branko Kolaric explained that such people didn’t contract the disease from the vaccine.

“I’d like to just mention that when someone gets vaccinated and still gets the disease, they didn’t get the disease from the vaccine. That’s impossible, but it does mean that the person was incubating the novel coronavirus at the time of their vaccination. The vaccine teaches our body how to fight the virus and that takes some time, the first effects should take about ten days to two weeks. It’s therefore still possible to contract the virus during that first week. People who received the first dose and became ill, receive the second dose on a schedule if their isolation is over. If not, then they get it after the end of their isolation,’’ explained Branko Kolaric.

“We’re now thinking about how we can get our hands on enough doses of the vaccine. We have a great interest, people who would readily get vaccinated are calling us,’’ he added.

Restrictions for those who are not vaccinated...

But the question arises - will there be restrictions for those who don’t get vaccinated? 

“Will there be any restrictions? In my opinion, yes, I think that’s possible. Some countries and companies will introduce that. Travel companies, airlines and the like said they would ask for their passengers to be vaccinated,’’ Branko Kolaric said.

When it comes to the anti-epidemic measures, he says it is difficult to say how long they’ll need to stay in place. "We’re monitoring the number of cases and the share of positives on a daily basis. This is going to remain as it is until January the 31st and after that we’ll see what the situation will be like,’’ he said, adding that he is optimistic about Croatia’s tourist season this year despite all.

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Sunday, 10 January 2021

Entire Shipment of Moderna's Vaccine to be Sent to Quake-Hit Banovina, Daily Says

ZAGREB, 10 January, 2021 - Sisak-Moslavina County has been given priority in the vaccination process and next week a complete shipment of Moderna's vaccine will be sent to the earthquake-hit county, Jutarnji List daily said on Sunday.

The number of coronavirus infections in Sisak-Moslavina County has jumped from 60 to 124 in the past two days. The increase has been expected as it was impossible to comply with epidemiological measures after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the area on 29 December. The priority was to save human lives, clear the rubble and provide people with temporary accommodation.

It is still difficult to comply with epidemiological measures in that county due to a high fluctuation of people. That is why the county was given priority in the testing process and the ongoing coronavirus vaccination process.

"More than a thousand people were vaccinated in that county on Thursday alone. We are doing everything we can to keep the epidemiological situation under control. Also, we have sent large quantities of rapid antigen tests there. We have sent six teams to perform rapid antigen tests in the quake-hit area," the head of the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak, told Jutarnji List.

He announced that a complete shipment of Moderna's vaccine would be sent to that county next week.

To date, 30,000 people have been vaccinated in Croatia, while 3,036 people were vaccinated in Sisak-Moslavina County alone by Friday night. A new shipment of 17,550 doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech will arrive on Monday, and 4,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine will arrive on Tuesday.

"We have talked with the prime minister and I think that Moderna's entire shipment will go to Sisak-Moslavina County. A week later another 17,550 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and another 6,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine will arrive in Croatia," Capak said.

However, mass vaccination in Croatia will commence only after AstraZeneca registers its vaccine. The first shipment of that vaccine was supposed to arrive in EU countries, including Croatia, at the end of December, but the manufacturer is still waiting for approval from European regulators. According to unofficial information, the vaccine should be registered by the end of January, and when distribution begins, more than 200,000 doses should arrive in Croatia in their first shipment (of a total of 2.7 million that Croatia ordered from that manufacturer), Jutarnji List said.

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