Thursday, 31 December 2020

Beroš: Record Blood Donations Yesterday, Over 1000 Vaccine Doses for Petrinja

December 31, 2020 – Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on the record blood donations collected in Petrova Hospital in Zagreb yesterday and coronavirus vaccine doses sent to the quake-affected area.

As N1 reports, in front of the Dubrava Hospital, where some COVID positive patients arrived from the earthquake-affected area, Health Minister Vili Beroš commented on patients' situation after the earthquake.

Record blood doses after 1995

"This morning, I received information from the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine that yesterday, a record number of blood doses was collected in Zagreb's Petrova Hospital, over 750 doses. The last time we had a similar turnout was August 5, 1995, the beginning of the Storm war operation. This shows the consciousness of the Croatian people," said Beroš.

"From a health point of view, this is a challenge. We want to provide health care to everyone. Given that most health facilities have been severely damaged, I believe we will respond adequately. As much as 90 percent of the Sisak hospital is out of order, so we have to adjust the health system and provide health care to the entire surrounding area," said Beroš.

He pointed out that many health centers are out of order. He also revealed that the Health Ministry sends about a thousand doses of vaccine to the affected area.

'Virus is still here'

"On Saturday, a team of epidemiologists from the Croatian Institute for Public Health will vaccinate all people who are in collective accommodation, emergency workers, and emergency services who are in the area and who will be there for three weeks, including all members of civil protection. Plans exist to adapt to the situation. Epidemiologists will estimate the situation and see how many vaccines are still needed. We are sending more than 1000 doses," said Beroš.

The Minister pointed out that there are enough reserves of protective equipment. He also said that the problem of drug delivery would be solved. Rapid antigen tests are being conducted among nursing home users in the area to find out if there are infections in collective accommodation.

"After the earthquake, Minister Aladrović contacted me. They enabled the accommodation for nursing home users from Petrinja in the Popovača Hospital and other places. There are positive cases among the users, so we are looking for accommodation for them with the county authorities. We still have to stick to measures, masks, distances, disinfection. The virus is still there. These circumstances favor its spread," said Beroš.

The Minister stressed that all health professionals with COVID patients must receive the promised money for the reward.

For more on the Petrinja earthquake, please follow our dedicated section.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

First Two Employees of Zagreb's Dubrava Hospital Vaccinated Against COVID-19

ZAGREB, Dec 27, 2020 - A physician and a nurse working in the intensive care unit of Zagreb's Dubrava hospital, converted into the central hospital treating COVID-19 patients in Croatia, got vaccinated against the disease on Sunday.

The vaccination was attended by Health Minister Vili Beros.

Thirty-five employees of the hospital will get immunised today and a total of 200 doctors and nurses working at the hospital will be vaccinated in the next two days.

Acting hospital director Ivica Luksic said that today was a big day, encouraging in many ways.

"The KB Dubrava hospital and all its employees have been on the front line of the battle against the pandemic from the very first day and for all of us this is a new beginning in the treatment of this disease," he said.

Minister: We will reward KB Dubrava for selfless work done

Minister Beros underlined the role of the KB Dubrava hospital, which has been the most important centre in the country for the treatment of COVID-19 patients since March.

"More than 450 people are treated and 69 receive respiratory support on a daily basis at Dubrava. I learned this morning that 360,000 litres of liquid oxygen is spent an hour in the treatment of our patients. We could not have created such conditions in any other Zagreb hospital," Beros said, adding that if possible, the government would compensate the hospital and all its employees for their selfless work.

"We will consider expansion to include new, research elements and new services. Once this epidemic is over, that will be a sign of gratefulness to all Dubrava hospital employees," said the minister.

Beros said the number of infections in the past two days was small but that fewer tests were performed, noting that it was encouraging that the number of new infections had been declining in the past two weeks.

He said that the number of new hospital admissions today was higher than on Saturday but that there were fewer patients on ventilators than yesterday.

"The number of fatalities is the result of developments in the last 2-3 weeks. That number is expected to start going down in a week and a half because the mortality rate will start following the trend in the number of new infections," said the minister.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

First Medical Workers Get Vaccinated in Zagreb

ZAGREB, Dec 27, 2020 - The first medical workers in Croatia got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Sunday, and the vaccines were dispensed at Zagreb's "Dr Fran Mihaljevic" hospital for infectious diseases.

Resident Nikolina Bogdanic, the first medical worker to get vaccinated, said that she had no doubts as to whether to get immunised.

"Considering what I have been witnessing on a daily basis, I never had any doubts as to whether I should get vaccinated," she said, adding that she was happy the vaccine had arrived in Croatia so quickly.

"Every vaccination is a big step in the fight against this ugly pandemic," Dr Bogdanic said.

Markotic: Today is important, optimistic day; Beros: We have a powerful weapon

The head of the "Dr Fran Mihaljevic" hospital, Alemka Markotic, said that today was a very important and optimistic day.

"It is very important that we all understand how important it is to protect oneself in the coming months and to get vaccinated in line with the vaccination schedule. The more people get vaccinated, the greater the chance will be that we will protect ourselves," Markotic said.

She said that 30 employees of the hospital would get vaccinated today and that priority was given to young people.

Health Minister Vili Beros, who attended the vaccination, said that the start of vaccinations heralded an end to the pandemic but he called for compliance with epidemiological restrictions during the cold winter months.

"We now have a powerful weapon in the fight against COVID-19," the minister said.

"Vaccination is a medical procedure that has saved the most lives in the history of medicine, so let us see to it that that is so this time as well. Vaccination has reduced or eliminated a large number of diseases, let us hope it will be the same with COVID-19... Vaccines reduce the clinical effects of dangerous diseases, so let us be optimistic and get vaccinated," the minister said.

He noted that talks had been held with representatives of family physicians and that vaccination offices and mobile teams were being organised. Also, work is underway on launching a platform that will make it easier for family doctors to keep a record of people interested in getting vaccinated, the minister said.

He called on citizens to contact their GPs, noting that they are the most relevant factor in assessing their condition and everything related to vaccination.

"Since the vaccination of larger groups of the population is expected in the spring, there is enough time until then and we will certainly organise the vaccination in the best possible way," said Beros.

HZJZ head: Another 8,000 doses to arrive next week

The head of the Croatian Public Health Institute, Krunoslav Capak, said that slightly fewer than 8,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would arrive in Croatia next week, and that 17,000 doses would arrive in the week after January 4.

After that, 18,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be arriving on a weekly basis, after which slightly greater quantities will be arriving, he said.

Capak expressed hope that after January 10 larger quantities of the Moderna vaccine would start arriving as well.

Earlier in the day, vaccination against COVID-19 began in Croatia, with 81-year-old Branka Anicic, a resident of a Zagreb retirement home, being the first person to get vaccinated.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe, Says Member of Gov't Scientific Advisory Council

ZAGREB, Dec 27, 2020 - A member of the government's Scientific Advisory Council, Andreja Ambriovic Ristov, has said that the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Croatia is the beginning of "the end of the abnormal situation we have been living in for ten months."

The first 9,750 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Croatia early on Saturday morning and the vaccination was set to start on Sunday.

Ambriovic Ristov, who heads the Department for Molecular Biology of Zagreb's Rudjer Boskovic Institute, said in an interview with Croatian Television on Saturday that the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic would not get back to normal so soon and that the dynamic of the vaccination would determine how soon herd immunity would be achieved.

It is assumed that immunity requires vaccinating 70% of the population, but there is a possibility that more people will have to get vaccinated, she added.

She noted that people should not relax too soon and that they should comply with the epidemiological restrictions in force.

"The current restrictions cannot be relaxed. They are good, the government made the right decision because two weeks ago, when they were introduced, the number of new infections started to decline. Unfortunately, the decline in hospital admissions is small but the number of fatalities is unfortunately still not going down," she said.

Ambriovic Ristov noted that one would have to live with restrictions until a majority of the population was immunised and until it became evident that the virus was circulating less in the population.

She said that it was not likely that people would be able to stop wearing face masks by autumn, but that the end was in sight.

She said that the vaccine was safe and that vaccination would not change anything in the human genome.

"We will stay as we are, the vaccine is completely safe," she said, stressing that only those with a history of more serious allergic reactions should be on guard.

Researcher: Vaccine won't yield effects before March

Researcher and molecular biologist Ivan Djikic said on Saturday that the vaccine that arrived in Croatia earlier in the day would not yield effects before March and stressed that compliance with epidemiological restrictions in January and February was essential for protection.

Expressing confidence that more than 70% of the population would get vaccinated based on positive results, he said that one should continue to be cautious because the vaccine alone would not defeat the disease.

It will take four to five weeks for the vaccine to yield a positive effect. "January and February are the months when we will have to work together to protect ourselves," he said.

The situation in Croatia regarding the epidemic is unstable, data on new infections are not reliable, the rate of testing is insufficient, he said.

"Croatia is No. 1 in terms of the growth of mortality, No. 2 in terms of the number of deaths and No. 4 in terms of pressure on hospitals. The vaccine will not yield effects before March, only our joint work will," he said, predicting that the situation will become more normal in the second half of 2021 but that life will completely get back to normal only in 2022.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

PM Sure That Vast Majority of Croatians Will Be Vaccinated

ZAGREB, Dec 27, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Sunday that he was sure that a vast majority of Croatians would be inoculated against coronavirus in the next months, reiterating that first 9,750 doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be administered to citizens at the highest risk and front-line professionals.

"I and my Cabinet are very happy that the vaccine rollout has started in Croatia. We have made the vaccination plan which the government adopted. The plan was prepared by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, to roll out vaccines throughout all the counties," the premier said after the first person in Croatia, an 81-year-old Branka Anicic, a resident of a retirement home in Zagreb, was given a Pfizer jab on Sunday morning.

Plenkovic underscored that the first 9,750 doses would be given to citizens at the highest risk of contracting the disease and to frontline workers.

The Croatian PM expects the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to certify the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Moderna on 6 January.

Asked by the press why Croatia's state leaders were not among the first to receive the vaccine, Plenkovic explained that the first doses should be distributed to residents in old-age care homes who are high-risk groups of citizens and to front-line physicians who care for them.

There will be enough time for the demonstration of giving vaccines to (officials) that should encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated, said Plenkovic, who recently recovered from COVID-19.

He expressed his belief in the common sense of most citizens who will get vaccinated.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Croatia to Start on Sunday, December 27, Announces PM

December 23, 2020 - The Croatian Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations in Croatia will begin on Sunday.

As Index.hr reports, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said today at the press conference in the National and University Library that the vaccination will begin on Sunday, December 27, 2020.

"Safety is based on controlled clinical trials. Vaccinations will start on December 27, and it will take place over the next few months. We want as many of our fellow citizens to be vaccinated, and preferably everyone. That is why we have a clear debate that as many people as possible decide to get vaccinated. We aim for 70 percent of our fellow citizens to be vaccinated," Plenković said, reports Večernji list.

People in nursing homes will first get vaccinated

The vaccination will be free and voluntary. The first to be vaccinated will be those at risk because of their age or illness and their type of work.

"The priority groups are health professionals who are in contact with COVID-19 patients and users of social care homes. In the second phase, the elderly and those with chronic diseases will be vaccinated. The vaccine is coming on Saturday, it will be distributed to counties on Sunday, and mostly those in nursing homes will be vaccinated," said Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Only the documentation content has changed, so now pregnant women and those who are planning to become pregnant can be vaccinated. There is no evidence that the vaccine acts on the fetus and pregnancy.

"We entered the negotiations on vaccine procurement with a timely response from the Government. We are a small market for large companies, and we often have problems with regular supply. We have secured maximum quantities of vaccines. When everyone gets the vaccine, we will get it too. That will happen on Saturday," Capak said.

Campaign 'Think of others, get vaccinated'

The Croatian Government has so far ordered 5,905,000 doses of the vaccine, of which one million from Pfizer, over two million from AstraZeneca, one million from Moderna, 900,000 from Johnson&Johnson, and 300,000 from CureVac.

Prime Minister Plenković said the vaccination plan's success depends on how many people will want to be vaccinated. He called on all media outlets to join the campaign under the slogan, "Think of others, get vaccinated."

"The Croatian Institute of Public Health has launched a campaign to promote vaccination. This is a key message. The arrival of the vaccine is an encouraging message, a message that gives hope for the normalization of life, social, and economic activities," Plenković explained. "This is an unprecedented crisis that has changed the world," he added.

Plenković said there is a loud but small group of people who oppose vaccination, but that there are many more people who want to be vaccinated than the vaccines that will come in the first tranche. Capak added that there would be enough vaccines for everyone.

"The arrival of the vaccine is a hope for the future. This is the moment when we come to the situation that by the end of March, we have about 270,000 doses of vaccine," Plenković said.

To read more about coronavirus in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Effective Vaccine Whose Benefits Outweigh Possible Risks Available

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The director of Croatia's Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices (HALMED) said on Monday the European Medicines Agency's approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine confirmed that all Croatian citizens could be sure to have access to an effective vaccine whose benefits outweighed possible risks.

Earlier today, EMA recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the vaccine Comirnaty, developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, to prevent COVID-19 in people from 16 years of age.

EMA’s human medicines committee has completed its rigorous evaluation of Comirnaty, concluding by consensus that sufficiently robust data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine are now available, HALMED said in a press release.

HALMED evaluators have participated in this procedure from the start as members of EMA's scientific commissions and working groups, Tomic said. "After the vaccine is put on the market, we will continue to intensively monitor the efficacy and safety of its application together with the Croatian Institute of Public Health and other regulators in the European Union."

EMA's scientific opinion will be submitted to the European Commission that will decide by tomorrow at the latest to grant marketing authorisation, which will be valid in all EU and European Economic Area member states, including Croatia.

The Comirnaty clinical trial involved around 44,000 people and showed a 95% reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the people who received the vaccine, HALMED said.

The trial also showed around 95% efficacy in the participants at risk of severe COVID-19, including those with asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or a body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2. 

Comirnaty is given as two injections at least 21 days apart. The most common side effects were usually mild or moderate and got better within a few days after vaccination.

As Comirnaty is recommended for a conditional marketing authorisation, the company that markets it will continue to provide results from the main trial, which is ongoing for two years. This trial and additional studies will provide information on how long protection lasts, how well the vaccine prevents severe COVID-19, how well it protects immunocompromised people, children and pregnant women, and whether it prevents asymptomatic cases.

The company will also carry out studies to provide additional assurance on the pharmaceutical quality of the vaccine as the manufacturing continues to be scaled up. Comirnaty will be closely monitored and subject to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

Although large numbers of people have received COVID-19 vaccines in clinical trials, certain side effects may only emerge when millions of people are vaccinated, HALMED said. 

Monday, 21 December 2020

Capak: First Batch of Pfizer Vaccine to Consist of 9,750 Doses

ZAGREB, Dec 21, 2020 - The first batch of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Croatia on December 26, and the 9,750 doses will be distributed among the counties taking into account the size of their population, Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) director Krunoslav Capak said on Monday.

"A total of 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be sent to Croatia on December 26. We will try to vaccinate as many people as possible with this symbolic dose," Capak told a press conference of the national COVID-19 response team.

This symbolic first batch will not be enough to vaccinate the whole first priority group of people in Croatia. "The vaccine will primarily be administered to care home residents, some of the emergency medical workers and some of the health workers in COVID centres," Capak said.

Capak noted that Pfizer had pledged to deliver additional supplies on December 31 which would be used to vaccinate the whole first priority group. He said that discussions were under way on the vaccination of the second priority group, including people suffering from chronic diseases and those older than 65 years.

Capak pointed out that 27% fewer new coronavirus infections had been recorded in the week from December 15 to 21 than in the previous week.

Croatia has the third highest 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate and the ninth highest mortality rate in the European Union.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Plenkovic Says will Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

ZAGREB, December 4, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is ready to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in public and fully supports the campaign of promoting COVID-19 vaccination, the government's spokesman Marko Milic said on Friday.

The spokesman explained that PM Plenkovic has contracted the coronavirus virus and is currently in isolation, which is why he will hold the necessary consultations with doctors on the appropriate time for him to be vaccinated.

Since the very beginning Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has fully and publicly supported vaccination as the method to immunise people against the COVID-19 disease. Having in mind that in the period when the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses will start, Plenkovic will be one of those who have recovered from that disease and he will hold the necessary consultations with doctors on the appropriate time for his vaccination, as suggested by Health Minister Vili Beros earlier in the day, Milic said in his answer to Hina's inquiries.

Milic reiterated that medical professionals, retirement home staff and residents as well as old-age citizens and patients suffering from chronic diseases will be the first to get the COVID-jabs.

Croatia has pre-orders 5.6 million doses of vaccine, Pfizer's expected to arrive first

Croatia has pre-ordered 5.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, and the vaccination could start with the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected to arrive first in 125,000 doses, Croatian Public Health Institute director Krunoslav Capak said earlier today.

Capak said that the European Union had entered into negotiations with six manufacturers, and the first agreement presented to Croatia was the one with AstraZeneca.

Croatia has pre-ordered 3.6 million doses of vaccine from that manufacturer but was allocated 2.7 million because of the huge interest of other EU member states, so it has pre-ordered 900,000 doses from Johnson & Johnson. After that, a million doses have been pre-ordered from Pfizer and Moderna each, and 300,000 doses from CureVac.

"Croatia has pre-ordered 5.6 million doses of vaccine from different manufacturers, and we have also received an offer from a company that will register its vaccine towards the end of 2021. We will order smaller quantities from it in case this is a seasonal vaccine," Capak said.

The Pfizer vaccine could be registered by December 29, Moderna expects to have its vaccine registered early in January, so it is likely that these two vaccines will be the first to be used in Croatia, given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be registered slightly later in the first quarter of next year, Capak said.

The government says that all information about its activities in the preparations for administering COVID-19 jabs is available on https://www.koronavirus.hr/cijepljenje-protiv-covid-19/872.

President Zoran Milanovic and several senior officials as well as leading epidemiologists have in the meantime expressed readiness to get vaccinated.

Friday, 4 December 2020

President Ready to Get Vaccinated in Public to Show Importance of Vaccination

ZAGREB, December 4, 2020 - President Zoran Milanovic thinks that all Croatian citizens should get vaccinated against COVID-19 and is himself ready to do so in public to show the importance of vaccination, his spokesman said on Friday.

"President Milanovic is of the view that everyone should get vaccinated. He counts on civil responsibility and awareness, and is himself ready to get vaccinated in public to show by example the importance of vaccination," presidential spokesman Nikola Jelic said in response to Hina's query.

Milanovic said on November 24 that, if necessary, he will be the first to get vaccinated because it is important that Croatian citizens understand that vaccination is good and necessary, and that in that way we protect ourselves collectively, Jelic recalled.

Earlier in the day, the members of the national COVID-19 response team also expressed their readiness to get vaccinated in public.

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