Saturday, 14 November 2020

Plenkovic: COVID Vaccines to Arrive in Croatia as Soon as They are Registered

ZAGREB, November 14, 2020 - Croatia, in cooperation with the European Union, has ordered COVID vaccines from several companies, and the delivery of the reserved doses can be expected in the country as soon as the vaccinations are registered, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said at a news conference in Zagreb on Saturday.

Croatia, in agreement with the EU, has concluded several Advance Purchase Agreements.

For instance, the European Commission and AstraZeneca have concluded such agreement on the delivery on 300 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the whole EU, and Croatia has ordered 2.7 million doses from that company.

Sanofi is supposed to provide the EU with 300 million doses, and the distribution of its vaccines across the EU member-states will be defined in December, Plenkovic told the news conference.

The EU is going to purchase 200 million doses from Janssen Pharmaceutica owned by Johnson & Johnson, and Croatia has booked 900,000 doses.

Finally, 200 million doses of the vaccine developed by the Pfizer & BioNTech have been booked for the EU plus an additional 100 million doses, and Croatia has reserved a million doses of this vaccine.

Commenting on the healthcare system in the country and struggle to contain the novel coronavirus, Plenkovic underscored that on Friday, his cabinet allocated HRK 1.34 billion to hospitals for the repayment of a part of the debt to drug wholesalers through a revision of the state budget.

He underscored the government's decision to approve state aid in the amount of HRK 88.5 million for Croatia Airlines to help it deal with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Job retention measures, rise in basic and minimum wages by €127 and €120 respectively 

Considering the job-retention measures, the government will have paid more than eight billion kuna for that purpose, he recalled.

He also underscored Friday's agreement between the government and public sector unions on a HRK 1,500 Christmas bonus and a previously agreed 4% base pay rise.

Thus, the government has reached the target of its four-year policy to have the wages raised by 18.3%.

The basic wage has increased by 952 kuna, and the minimum wage has increased by 904 kuna over that period of four years, he said.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Friday, 13 November 2020

Krunoslav Capak: Croatia to be Among First to Begin Vaccination

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 12th of November, 2020, the director of the Croatian Institute for Public Health, Krunoslav Capak, recently commented for U mrezi prvog on when the first vaccinations against the new coronavirus in Croatia would begin. Four million and 600 thousand doses of vaccine are set to arrive in the country. The most optimistic forecast is that the first doses of the brand new will arrive in December.

"We've got the first draft plan, but we still don't know when the vaccines will come. Croatia is being provided with a vaccine from three suppliers, and we'll continue on with other suppliers. For now, we will have enough for more than 50 percent of the population. We don't know which will be the first vaccine to be registered, the most likely one will be the one from Oxford's Astra Zenica. When they'll be ready - we don't know yet, but according to what we heard from them yesterday, it should be soon. That moment is now approaching,'' Krunoslav Capak assured.

He added that once the side effects are known, further elements for the plan will be known in order to best handle the next hurdle in the battle against the novel coronavirus - SARS-CoV-2.

"Pfizer's vaccine could be the first in the world. We will start vaccinating early, we will be among the first in the world to do so,'' added Krunoslav Capak.

''Those who will administer the coronavirus vaccinations will be general practitioners, pediatricians and staff at public health institutes. Rapid vaccination teams may also be organised for special sections of the population. We will first vaccinate the most vulnerable groups, older people, and people with commodities. It's very important to include the strategically important population - healthcare workers, workers in nursing homes and possibly the police and the army. But we'll know more about that only when we know how many vaccines we're going to get,'' said the first man of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, adding that they don't even know how long the vaccine will be valid for, ie how much the vaccine will be worth, as some vaccines are valid for a mere six months.

The vaccine against the novel coronavirus will be voluntary and free for strategic and vulnerable groups of people.

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Saturday, 17 October 2020

Samobor Company Building Factory for COVID-19 Vaccine Production

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 16th of October, 2020, while thousands of scientists around the world are still working on developing a vaccine against the new coronavirus, as well as developing drugs to help deal with the more serious symptoms of COVID-19, some companies have already embarked on building the capacities needed to produce vaccines. One Samobor company is among them.

The American company Moderna, which is developing its own vaccine for COVID-19, mRNA-1273, has already started strengthening its production capacities. In partnership with the Swiss company Lonza, they agreed to produce the vaccine at two locations - in the United States and much closer to home here in Europe in Switzerland.

As it is expected that Moderna's vaccine, which is currently in the third and final phase of testing, will get the green light for production by the end of the year, it has been agreed to start expanding production capacities, according to a report from Zimo.

The value of the project is estimated at 210 million Swiss francs (1.499 billion kuna), and the construction of the plant in the Swiss city of Vispo should be completed within eight months, instead of two years which is otherwise the practice.

''Everything will be ready for the production of the first doses in December,'' assures construction site manager Torsten Schmidt. Three production lines will be installed at the plant, which will be able to produce a total of about 300 million doses of vaccine per year.

However, the real news, at least in Croatian terms, is that the Samobor company Klimaoprema was chosen as the main designer and contractor, which, in cooperation with the company for the development of the CRB production process from the USA, will be responsible for the entire project, until it is handed over to the owner at the end.

Although the details of the project itself are still inaccessible to the public, it is known that the plant being constructed by the aforementioned Samobor company will cover an area of ​​approximately 2,500 m2 of CNC to C class.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Croatia Preorders 1.5 Mn Doses of COVID Vaccine

ZAGREB, Aug 12, 2020 - The head of Zagreb's Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Alemka Markotic, told a press conference on Wednesday that Croatia had preordered 1.5 million doses of vaccines, the procurement of which would be organised by the European Union.

She said that according to the World Health Organisation's data, there were currently 28 vaccines in a clinical trials, with only six in phase 3. Two are from China, the others are from America and England, while the Russian one is not on that list.

"It will be necessary to obtain additional scientific information on their (Russian) procedure. But there is suspicion at the level of the entire professional community that the procedure was too fast and that phase 3 was not carried out to the extent it should be," Markotic said.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Gov't Adopts Draft Agreement on Purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine

ZAGREB, July 30, 2020 - The Croatian government on Thursday adopted a draft agreement between the European Commission and EU member states on the purchase of a vaccine against the COVID-19 disease.

Health Minister Vili Beros was given the authority to sign a letter notifying the European Commission about the completion of the necessary procedures in Croatia to sign the agreement.

Beros said that currently there was no vaccine against the coronavirus or specific treatment for this disease.

"Based on the proposed agreement, the European Commission is authorised by the participating member states to sign advance purchase agreements with vaccine producers to buy a vaccine and curb this disease at the EU level," the health minister said.

By acceding to this agreement, Croatia confirms its intention to buy a vaccine and becomes entitled to purchase a certain amount of vaccine. This right is exercised by entering into separate agreements with vaccine producers to buy a vaccine at a price negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of the member states.

"The agreement represents the basis for the European Commission to enter into advance agreements with vaccine producers, and each member state decides on its own on entering into a separate purchase agreement with a vaccine producer," Beros said.

The government also adopted a decree to create the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister without a portfolio, which will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Beros: Participation in Initiatives Important so We Wouldn't Be Left without Vaccine

ZAGREB, July 30, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Thursday it was difficult to say when the coronavirus vaccine would be available, but that Croatia's participation in global initiatives was important so that it would not be left without the vaccine.

"The European Commission and other global initiatives are making their projections based on optimistic thinking, with some mentioning the end of this year and some the middle of the next . I really can't say except that the vast capacities of the research community are being used in efforts to find a vaccine," Beros said while answering questions from the press ahead of a cabinet meeting.

Croatia recently signed a preliminary agreement for a million and a half doses of vaccine as part of the European Commission's initiative. Beros said that the price of that vaccine was still not known and that ultimately it was not important. "We will find a way to buy what the Croatian people need," he said.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Croat from Oxford University Explains Coronavirus Vaccine Advancement

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 1st of May, 2020, the worldwide search for a vaccine against the new coronavirus has paralysed public health and the global economy and completely changed the way in which we live our lives, even down to the way we conduct our social relations.

Of the nearly 400 medicines and vaccines currently being tested, 5 or 6 have shown good results and have entered the clinical trials phase in humans. One, perhaps the most promising research, comes from England's prestigious Oxford University. That's where Croatian molecular biologist Kristijan Ramadan works.

The whole world is wondering if this is finally going to be a coronavirus vaccine that will be both reliable and safe.

''Nobody can answer that, the vaccines are stil being developed,'' Ramadan told Zajedno za zdravlje/Together for health (on HRT4).

''We have about 70 different groups and vaccines that are close to reaching clinical research worldwide. We're proud of our university for coming to the conclusion that our vaccine has shown excellent results in testing on monkeys. Six monkeys were infected with a large amount of human coronavirus and after receiving the vaccine ,they were completely healthy within 2 or 3 weeks, ie, they didn't show any symptoms of disease development and the new coronavirus couldn't reproduce in them. And in the control group, symptoms of coronavirus developed. This shows that a vaccine intended for human use also works in monkeys,'' Ramadan explained.

The sequence between the monkey and human genome is strikingly similar.

''This should mean that this vaccine will have an even better effect in humans. The question now is how harmful the vaccine will be or how much of a benefit it will be. With each vaccine, the postulate is to do less damage and provide more benefit. This vaccine is significant because the group that developed it has already had success with the previous development of the MERS vaccine,'' he said.

The development of technology has contributed to all of this.

''Until about ten years ago, and until molecular biology evolved with the help of technology, most vaccines were made by using a virus, a living virus that would have its pathogenicity reduced. Today, with new technologies, we no longer have to use the virus itself, we just use one piece of genetic material from it and insert it into another virus or another vector, the carrier of that virus,'' he explained.

''This vaccine was patented at Oxford by director Adrian Hill, who has worked on it for twenty years. His idea was to develop a good malaria vaccine. He never succeeded in that, but success came from that failure when he developed a specific technology used today to develop this coronavirus vaccine,'' he said.

"The knowledge that he has been accumulating over the course of 20-30 years has proven to be essential for the development of this vaccine at this time," he concluded.

The human testing phase has begun, and every vaccine must undergo extremely stringent rigorous testing. We'll just need to wait with our fingers crossed to find out if and when it will be ready for mass use.

Make sure to follow our dedicated coronavirus section for more.

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