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DENMARK

Norway pledges billions to IMF crisis fund

Norway joined Sweden and Denmark on Tuesday as the Nordic neighbours pledged $26 billion to the new IMF crisis funding Tuesday, taking the total raised so far to $286 billion, Fund managing director Christine Lagarde announced.

Norway pledges billions to IMF crisis fund
Photo: World Economic Forum (File)

Their support to the planned $400 billion fund-raising exercise "clearly demonstrates these countries' enduring commitment to multilateralism," Lagarde said in a statement.

"Ensuring that the Fund has sufficient resources to tackle crises and to promote global economic stability is in the interests of all our members," she said.

In a Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung interview published earlier Tuesday, Lagarde revealed that the International Monetary Fund is seeking some $400 billion for expanding its crisis intervention "firepower".

That was sharply lower than the original target of $500 billion. Last week Lagarde said the Fund was lowering its target, citing a slight easing of tensions in the global and eurozone financial system.

In the newest pledges, Denmark was promising about $7 billion, Norway $9.3 billion, and Sweden, $10 billion.

Their contributions follow a $60 billion commitment from Japan and $200 billion from the euro area.

The IMF is hoping to firm up commitments, especially from the big emerging economies like China, Russia, Brazil and India, at the Fund's Spring meetings held at the end of this week in Washington.

But the Fund's largest shareholder, the United States, is not expected to contribute.

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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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