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SWEDEN

Switzerland knocks Norway off Big Mac perch

A burgeoning Swiss franc has helped the Alpine nation dislodge Norway from the top of The Economist's Big Mac index, a study comparing the price of McDonald’s most famous burger with the cost of living in 100 countries.

Switzerland knocks Norway off Big Mac perch
Photo: AYArktos

A Big Mac in the Norway costs 41 kroner ($6.79) compared to an average of $4.20 in the US.

This means Swiss burger munchers pay the equivalent of 2 cents more than their Norwegian peers.

"The exchange rate that would equalise the price of a Swiss Big Mac with an American one is SFr1.55 to the dollar; the actual exchange rate is only 0.96," The Economist says

Sweden trails Switzerland and Norway on the podium for the countries with the most overvalued currencies. From the bottom up, India, the Ukraine and Hong Kong have the most undervalued bank notes.

The Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, explains The Economist. Exchange rates should adjust to equal the price of a basket of goods and services in different countries, but this is not always the case.

In order to find out the level of appreciation of currencies in relation to the US dollar, it compares the price of the fast-food chain's star product, which is made from two basic products (bread and meat), with the cost of the same product in another country.

In the case of the euro, the common European currency has lost ground against its US counterpart since July, when the last Big Mac Index was presented. Six months ago, the euro was 21 percent overvalued against the dollar, compared to a 6 percent overvaluation today.

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NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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