Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Epidemiologist: At This Rate, Vaccination Goal Won't Be Met Until Autumn

February 9, 2021 – In a Croatian media TV interview, epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health Bernard Kaić yesterday said the plan to vaccinate half of the population by the summer will be delayed. He predicted that if Croatia continues vaccination at its current rate, the goal would not be reached until autumn, possibly late autumn

Epidemiologist of the Croatian Institute of Public Health Bernard Kaić, speaking to Croatian media RTL, told them the plan to vaccinate half of the population by the summer will be delayed. The epidemiologist predicted that if Croatia continues vaccination at its current rate, the goal of vaccinating half of the population within the country will not be completed until autumn, possibly late autumn.

"I can't say (by) exactly how much,” he told RTL, regarding how much delay will occur, “because we still don't know how many vaccines we'll get in March. And (how much) after March we (still) have no idea.”

“If this pace continues, it would take four million doses to vaccinate half the population. We won't achieve that until autumn for sure, and it’s late autumn,” the epidemiologist said.

According to an article in Index, the epidemiologist said that, as things currently stand, there will be three vaccines used in Croatia - AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech. They will be used concurrently, with vaccinations from all three available in Croatia at the same time.

When asked which vaccine he would choose to be vaccinated with, the epidemiologist answered that he did not know and that he was glad that he did not have the opportunity to choose. "There was only one offered so I got vaccinated,” said the epidemiologist. “It would be really hard to decide."

When asked why some states have given up vaccinating those over the age of 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the epidemiologist explained that in currently available results from clinical studies the messenger RNA vaccine had proven to be somewhat more effective in preventing mild forms of Coronavirus than the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some of the vaccines work in different ways. However, the epidemiologist ultimately said that it was expected the AstraZeneca vaccine would prove to be effective, it was just that this had not yet been proven statistically.

bernard-kaic-e505fb44671c29c2fdonRTL.jpgRTL screenshot

Later in the interview, the epidemiologist was asked “Due to skepticism towards AstraZeneca, many associations in (Croatia's) border areas plan to take pensioners to Serbia for vaccination. How smart is it to accept such an arrangement?”

The epidemiologist replied; “My only fear is that such organized trips do not turn into corona-trips so that people do not get infected on the way back and forth and do themselves harm. I would wait.”

The three vaccines for which Croatia is currently expecting deliveries are now not the only vaccines available. Speaking in a discussion on the same evening on another Croatian media outlet, HRT, Zlatko Trobonjača, an immunologist from the Rijeka Clinical Hospital, spoke about the Russian vaccine.

"Our country is obviously following the EU and its decisions,” he said. “The EU has entered into talks with Russia. It can be expected that these talks will continue. It is a quality vaccine, it provides high protection.”

"As for the quality of the vaccine, we can see that it is not harmful and it could be used in our country. The EU is oriented towards Western companies. And now, they (the companies) did not stick to the agreement," Trobonjača said, adding that he would be vaccinated with the first vaccine that was made available to him.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Croatian Plant Sweet Wormwood Treats Coronavirus, say German Scientists

October 7, 2020 - Medical professionals remain cautious, but German media reports that scientists in their country have evidence to suggest Sweet Wormwood is effective in treating COVID-19. Known as Slatki Pelin in Croatia, the plant grows in Dalmatia and Herzegovina

67-year-old German media outlet Deutsche Welle has written that scientists within their country have discovered that Sweet Wormwood is effective in treating COVID-19. The plant is known as Slatki pelin in Croatian and grows wild within inland Dalmatia and nearby Herzegovina.

3096px-Artemisia_annua_sl5.jpegSweet Wormwood is known as Slatki pelin in Croatia and grows in Dalmatia and Herzegovina, where people have been using it in tea as a herbal remedy © Stefan.lefnaer

Scientists from the German Max-Planck Institute in Potsdam are researching how to treat patients with the plant. Though the World Health Organisation says there is currently no evidence that sweet wormwood helps in the treatment of COVID-19, Dr Andrea Jurić, acting director of the Institute of Public Health of West Herzegovina Canton, confirmed to Deutsche Welle that she was aware of the plant's positive effects on COVID-19 patients within Herzegovina. Some of the region's inhabitants have been using the plant to make tea for use as a herbal remedy for those who have COVID-19. Herbal remedies are commonly used across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

When asked about the German media report, Croatian Minister for Health Krunoslav Capak said that no comment could be made without recognised clinical trials having first been undertaken. “We in the medical profession are primarily guided by scientific research and clinical trials of drugs and medical procedures,” he said, after reminding journalists early reports that chloroquine and some other antiviral drugs were successful in treating COVID-19 had since been disproved by clinical trials. “Only when something is proved to be useful can we talk about it.”

Sweet Wormwood or Artemisia annua in Latin, is also sometimes known as Sweet Annie, Sweet Sagewort, Annual Mugwort and Annual Wormwood. It grows naturally in North America and in Asia too. In China, it has long been used in herbal medicine and is widely cultivated for that purpose. The plant already has an established reputation for combating malaria.

Artemisia_annua.jpegSweet Wormwood © Kristian Peters

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Saturday, 15 August 2020

Daily: EU Provides €128 Mn For 23 COVID-19 Projects

ZAGREB, Aug 15, 2020 - The European Commission will provide support for 23 new COVID-19 research projects in the amount of €128 million as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, and Croatian scientists are participating in three projects, the Jutarnji List daily reported in its August 13 issue.

A total of 347 scientific teams from 40 countries are involved in the 23 chosen projects, including 34 participants from 16 countries outside the European Union. One of the projects is SHARE COVID, a study of social, health, and economic effects of COVID-19 on persons over the age of 50, in which Croatian scientists have also been involved.

The Faculty of Business and Economics in Zagreb is a partner on the project, and the work package dedicated to the quality of health care is led by Sime Smolic. The main goal of this project is to understand the unplanned effects of pandemic and devise improved health, economic, and social policies.

"In this project specifically we are monitoring how people over the age of 50 are coping with the effect of the lockdown and how it will affect them. Later, we will be able to compare these data with the 2008 crisis research, since we surveyed the same people then, so the data are comparable," Smolic said.

The second project on which Croatian scientists are working is a completely new project, Envision. The project is about smart digital monitoring of COVID-19 patients in real-time, which facilitates decision-making in intensive care units.

The third project involving Croatia is called unCoVer, and it is being implemented in cooperation with 29 European partners, while the project leader is the Institute of Tropical Medicine.

The funding will enable scientists to help contain the pandemic and its impact by strengthening the industry's ability to produce and use already available solutions, by developing medical technology and digital tools, by having a better insight into the behavioral and socioeconomic effects of the pandemic and by studying large groups of patients across Europe, the Jutarnji List daily said.