Friday, 19 March 2021

Croatia Establishes Contact with Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturers

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that Croatia had contacted two Chinese COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and that talks were at at an initial stage, while Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the situation with AstraZeneca's vaccine proved that caution was important.

"We have established contact with manufacturers of the Chinese vaccine, or more precisely, with manufacturers of two types of Chinese vaccine. We have been given some preliminary information and talks will continue," Beroš told a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

He said that all important aspects of the vaccines needed to be discussed, such as safety, efficiency and quality.

Plenković said that the situation with AstraZeneca "is more than clear proof of how one needs to be cautious when placing a vaccine on the market."

"We are now talking about the credibility of a vaccine that has passed clearance and filters in America, the United Kingdom and the European Union. What would we do with vaccines that have none of these credentials? We have to take that into account," the prime minister warned.

Easter passes not discussed

As regards the deterioration in the epidemiological situation and possible passes for Easter, Plenković said that no one talked about such passes and that they were not an option.

He said that Croatia had now ordered more vaccine from Pfizer than from AstraZeneca, but added that at this point no one knew at what rate vaccines would be distributed from 1 May onward. "If a negative scenario happens with AstraZeneca, we are already in the process of ordering more vaccine from Pfizer to offset that."

He said he was confident that progress would be made on a corrective mechanism for vaccine distribution because "people understand that it is not countries that are responsible for this situation."

Asked if he was satisfied with how the EU handled vaccine procurement, Plenković said there was no doubt that the contracts could have been better written in terms of the pace of vaccine delivery. As for people's scepticism about the safety of vaccines, he said it was also important what the media said about them.

"We need to respect authorities on this matter, and our authorities are the World Health Organisation, the European Medicines Agency and the Croatian Agency for Medicines and Medicinal Devices. These are regulators. If a vast majority of professionals from a large number of countries think that this is all right, then we should use that for guidance. That's the most logical and best approach we can take," the prime minister said.

Additional encouragement to regional approach

The head of the national coronavirus response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said that the team would unveil guidelines for the Adriatic counties on Friday as an additional encouragement to the county response teams because the incidence rate differed from county to county.

"We do not think it is time for horizontal measures, especially not in those counties, and there are more of them in the north of the country, where the epidemiological situation is good," Božinović said.

He noted that county response teams had been invited from the outset to propose tighter restrictions because their epidemiologists and professionals on the ground know where a coronavirus hotspot has emerged and what has caused it.

"This regional approach is not just an encouragement, but also a preparation for what is and what will become an integral part of the EU policy for the tourist season," Božinović said, calling for increased inspections of compliance with the restrictions in place and for self-discipline.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Croatia's Coronavirus Update: 1,112 New Cases, 17 Deaths, 785 Recoveries

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - In the last 24 hours, Croatia has performed 6,553 tests for coronavirus and 1,112 of them, or 17%, have returned positive, the national COVID-19 crisis management team reported on Friday.

Currently, there are 6,426 active cases in the country, and of them, 918 patients are receiving hospital treatment, including 80 placed on ventilators.

In the last 24 hours, the death toll related to COVID-19 has increased by 17 to 5,743.

Since the outbreak of this infectious disease in late February last year, as many as 1.46 million tests have been performed, and 255,619 people have turned out to be positive. Of them, 243,450 have recovered, including 785 in the last 24 hours.

Currently, 21,803 persons are self-isolating.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Croatia Logs 1,197 New Coronavirus Cases, 17 Deaths

ZAGREB, 18 March, 2021 - In the past 24 hours 1,197 new coronavirus cases and 17 COVID deaths have been registered in Croatia, the national COVID-19 response team said on Thursday.

The number of active cases is 6,116, including 894 hospitalised patients, of whom 84 are on ventilators, while 20,528 people are self-isolating.

To date Croatia has registered 254,507 coronavirus cases, 5,726 COVID deaths and 242,665 recoveries, including 554 in the past 24 hours, and 1,454,984 persons have been tested for the virus, including 7,619 in the past 24 hours. The positive rate of tests in the last 24 hours was 15.7%.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

New Coronavirus Infections Up 46% Week on Week

ZAGREB, 17 March, 2021 - The number of new coronavirus infections in Croatia is up by 46% from last week and among the 12 COVID fatalities in the past 24 hours is a 12-year-old girl who had multiple comorbidities, the national COVID-19 response team said on Wednesday.

"In the three days of this week, we had 2,265 new cases, while in the first three days of last week, we had 1,547. The incidence is 222.7, the lowest  being in Istria County and highest in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County," said Krunoslav Capak, head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

In EU rankings, Croatia is seventh with the lowest incidence. Today 16.7% of the test results were positive (1,445 cases).

British variant detected in 50% of samples

Speaking of new variants, Capak said the British one was present in more than 50% of the sequenced samples.

"These new variants spread somewhat faster, and due to vaccination, nicer weather and the favourable situation we have had, people have relaxed. There is more and more socialising, gatherings, which is the biggest risk for the spread of coronavirus infection," he said, adding that the classic epidemiological measures were also effective against the new variants.

Asked if Croatia was in a third wave of the epidemic, Capak said it was difficult to say but that the important thing was to continue to fight to cut down the numbers of new cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

Speaking of the 12-year-old girl who died of COVID in the past 24 hours, Capak said she had a serious cardiovascular comorbidity.

He went on to say that less than 30% of people had refused the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Asked if the ministers who had recovered from COVID would be given that vaccine to promote it and if the vaccination of people over 65 with AstraZeneca would be suspended for fear of side effects, Capak said the response team was not considering either.

He said "we believe we have no reason" to suspend the administration of AstraZeneca to those over 65, adding that the European Medicines Agency's "commission on side effects is intensively investigating all side effects."

He said there was no difference in the occurrence of side effects with either Pfizer or AstraZeneca and that it was 0.5% in each.

Božinović: Existing regime should stay

The head of the national response team, Interior Minister Davor Božinović, said the existing regime of restrictions should stay and that possible changes should be made at county level.

Asked if restrictions would be tightened ahead of Easter, he said this regime could be kept up only if everyone was responsible and disciplined.

"In recent days the virus has been rapidly spreading in some parts of Croatia, so the measures should be considered at county level. Serious measures are in force, although they are the least restrictive in the European Union, and we will keep this regime only if everyone assumes responsibility."

Božinović said some counties were already tightening restrictions based on their epidemiological situation.

He would not comment on the suspension of vaccination with AstraZeneca in some countries despite there being no proof that some deaths were related to the vaccine. "We always explain the background of our decisions transparently and publicly, including this one to continue to administer AstraZeneca."

The head of Zagreb's Infections Diseases Hospital, Alemka Markotić, said she could not say how big the increase was in the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, adding that the outcomes of the children treated in her hospital were continually good and that the percentage was not high.

"The important thing is that the syndrome has been recognised. Our doctors manage to deal with it well and there are no major problems for now."

 For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: "Croatia Continues to Administer AstraZeneca"

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that Croatia would continue to administer the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that some 20 countries have suspended vaccination due to blood clotting in some patients.

Although more and more countries are suspending the use of AstraZeneca, Croatia will wait for the opinion of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"The stand of professionals on this matter is that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any risks known to them at the moment," Plenković told the press in Daruvar. "None of them has pointed to us any risks which would lead to the conclusion that vaccination should stop."

Today Plenković took part in an online meeting with prime ministers Sebastian Kurz of Austria, Janez Janša of Slovenia, Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria, Andrej Babiš of the Czech Republic, and Arturs Karinš of Latvia.

The six EU member states will demand a corrective mechanism for vaccine distribution, Plenković said afterwards. "We agreed to jointly appeal for the creation of a corrective mechanism."

Thereby, he added, they wish to "compensate for the delay some countries have experienced due to the slower distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine."

EMA will meet on Thursday to discuss the information gathered and decide if said vaccine has contributed to thromboembolism in people who have received it.

For more about vaccination in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Koprivnica-Križevci Crisis Management Team Suspends Vaccination With AstraZeneca Vaccine

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - The Koprivnica-Križevci County's COVID-19 crisis management team on Tuesday decided to suspend mass vaccination with AstraZeneca shots against COVID-19, which was set for Wednesday, 17 March, until the European Medicines Agency (EMA) decides on the matter at its meeting on 18 March.

The mass inoculation was to have been held in a hall in Sveti Petar Orehovec for the residents of that town as well as for residents of Gornja Reka and Kalnik.

However, in the meantime it has been decided to wait for the EMA's decision.

To date, 6,363 residents of this county in north Croatia have been inoculated against coronavirus with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, and 1,961 have received both doses of the two-dose vaccine. There have been no reports of any serious side-effects.

The people who get vaccinated with vaccines registered in Croatia and the EU will have protection from getting seriously sick, which could eventually result in death, the team said.

For more about vaccatinations in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

PM Andrej Plenković: EMA's Stance on AstraZeneca Vaccine to be Known Tomorrow

ZAGREB, 15 March, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that a coordinated stance by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine should be known tomorrow, after several countries have temporarily suspended administering the vaccine due to the emergence of certain side effects.

"Our stance is that a sound test has to be conducted to determine if there are any reasons, based on the findings so far, for Croatia also to go in that direction. From what the experts are telling me, there are no such indications for the time being. Tomorrow, we will probably see a coordinated stance by EMA, which as far as I understand, will proceed cautiously, that is, continue testing the vaccine itself and continue with consultations with the company regarding any possible consequences of the vaccination," Plenković said ahead of a joint meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) Presidency and National Council.

He added that the director of Croatia's HALMED drug regulator, Siniša Tomić, today participated in EMA meetings which discussed what to do next considering the emergence of several side effects that have been reported throughout Europe.

In reference to the procurement of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Plenković said that Croatia would wait for it to be approved and that the EMA had launched the relevant procedure. In the meantime, we will obtain additional information and test the vaccine, he added.

Asked who made the decision on how many doses of a vaccine Croatia would order, Plenković said that the procurement of vaccines was launched in the summer before reports that AstraZeneca had had certain problems with clinical trials.

"The vaccine that at the time was way ahead in terms of testing and the fact that it could be finished and its approval sought was AstraZeneca's and we, like the majority of other countries, immediately ordered the largest quantity of that vaccine. Then we ordered the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Croatia ordered a total of 8.7 million doses," said Plenković, adding that no one could have known that problems would emerge in vaccine production when the initial orders were made.

Asked whether anyone would be held responsible for the poor estimate in procuring vaccines, he said that for the entire time the aim had been to protect citizens, which was why more doses had been ordered than Croatia needed.

"The problem has emerged because one company, from which we ordered the biggest quantity... now has a problem in delivering the vaccine to the entire European Union. If that problem didn't exist, the rate of inoculation in Croatia would be very high," he explained.

Asked why Croatia didn't order the largest quantity of the Pfizer vaccine, which was the option many countries used, he said that only a few countries did that and that Croatia's decision was based on an expert opinion at the time.

"Croatia has a population of four million people and can immunise a maximum 3.4 million, and how could it justify buying 20 million doses?" "We did everything that was logical and correct based on the information that was available at the time and as time is moving on, we are looking for other solutions, just like everyone else," he said.

He added that it was necessary to find a corrective mechanism to redistribute the vaccines.

As far as continuing inoculation with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Croatia is concerned, Plenković said that the experts would decide on that. "As far as I understand, EMA's stance is that when the risk and benefits are taken into account, at the moment it is better to be vaccinated," said Plenković.

With regard to the European initiative for a vaccination certificate, Plenković said that the European Commission would release its proposal on Wednesday and that that would enable free movement and the tourism season.

For more about vaccinations in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Croatia Logs 691 New Coronavirus Cases, 12 Deaths

ZAGREB, 16 March, 2021 - Croatia has registered 691 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours while 12 people have died as a consequence, and currently there are 4,475 active cases in the country, the national COVID-19 response team reported on Tuesday. 

Of the total number of active cases, 858 are hospitalised patients, 78 of whom are on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was registered in Croatia, a total of 251,865 people have been affected with the virus.

The death toll in that period has reached 5,697 while 241,693 people have recovered, 546 of whom have recovered in the past 24 hours.

There are currently 17,271 people in self-isolation.

A total of 1,438,689 tests have been conducted to date, including 7,347 in the past 24 hours.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Most Epidemiological Restrictions Extended Until End of March

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Croatia has a 26% weekly increase in the number of new coronavirus infections and most epidemiological restrictions will be extended until the end of March but outdoor sports competitions will be allowed, the national COVID-19 response team said on Friday.

Most existing epidemiological restrictions will remain in force.

One of the changes is that it will be possible to change the maximum allowed number of attendees at cultural events through recommendations by the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ), without waiting for a decision by the national COVID-19 response team, and outdoor sports competitions will be allowed as well, the team's head, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, said.

Restrictions regarding gatherings, passenger transport, shops' working hours and border crossing will be extended until 31 March and a decision on that will take effect on 13 March, said Božinović.

As for decisions at the local level, restrictions will be extended in Dubrovnik-Neretva County while COVID-19 response teams in counties with a marked increase in the number of new infections will be expected to propose restrictions in line with the local situation.

Share of positive tests 13.8%; Inoculation with AstraZeneca vaccine continues

Croatia today reported 823 new infections of 5,945 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, the percentage of positive tests being 13.8%. The average age of those who have died is 77.5 years and the youngest person was 62, Assistant Health Minister Vera Katalinić-Janković said.

HZJZ head Krunoslav Capak warned that the number of new infections this week was 26% higher than last week.

"Istria County has the lowest incidence, and Dubrovnik-Neretva County the highest. As for the seven-day incidence, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County is at the top, however, epidemiologists say that there are no major hot spots there but rather a lot of small hot spots due to socialising," said Capak.

He also pointed to an increase in the share of positive cases in the number of tests done, which today was 13.8%.

Commenting on reported side effects of the vaccines, he said most reports referred to the Pfizer vaccine, 898, followed by AstraZeneca's vaccine, 337, and Moderna's, 81.

Despite the fact that in some EU countries inoculation with AstraZeneca's vaccine has been suspended, Croatia will continue using the vaccine.

Capak said that the AstraZeneca vaccine Croatia obtained was not from the same series as that obtained by Austria and 15 other EU countries. Countries that have discontinued inoculation with that vaccine have done so until the reported side effects are investigated, he said.

"If it is established that the thromboembolisms reported are not related to the vaccine, countries that have suspended vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue the vaccination process. Croatia did not receive that vaccine series... and will continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine," he said.

He also commented on an announcement that the deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be much smaller than agreed.

"We were to receive 19,200 doses in the third week of March and will receive 7,200. In the fourth week of March, we were to receive 79,568 doses and will receive 9,800," he said.

As for the vaccine of the US company Johnson & Johnson, Capak said that the vaccine will soon be registered in the EU but could not tell how many doses Croatia would obtain considering reports that the US government would first supply the US market with the agreed quantities and then start exports to other countries.

Asked about alternative vaccine imports, Capak said that the documentation requested from the Russian producer had still not arrived, which was a precondition to launch emergency imports.

Meanwhile, the Russian manufacturer has launched the process of registration of the vaccine with the European Medicines Agency and Capak said he believed the process would soon be completed and that Croatia would be able to import the vaccine normally.

As for the Chinese vaccine, not much information is known but the HZJZ today held an online meeting with its producers, Capak said, adding that he would inform the public of the meeting on Monday.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Coronavirus Update: 823 New Infections, 12 Fatalities

ZAGREB, 12 March, 2021 - Over the past 24 hours, 823 people in Croatia have contracted coronavirus and 12 have died, the national COVID-19 crisis management team said on Friday.

There are currently 4,522 active cases of the infection, 811 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, and 78 of them are on ventilators.

Since 25 February 2020, when the first case of the infection was recorded in Croatia, the country has registered 249,661 people infected with coronavirus and 5,647 people have died.

A total of 239,492 people have recovered, including 578 over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 17,012 people in self-isolation.

To date, 1,416,328 people have been tested, including 5,945 in the last 24 hours.

For more about COVID-19 in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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