Norway and Sweden join forces to save Arctic fox

Norway and Sweden are combining forces to save the Arctic fox, which is under threat from climate change and the incursion into its territory of the common red fox, which is almost twice the size.

Norway and Sweden join forces to save Arctic fox
One of two Arctic fox cubs released at Dovrefjell in 2007. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/Scanpix

The two countries on Wednesday signed a declaration of intent,  envisaging close cooperation on joint action, transnational fieldwork and joint reporting.

“We are in agreement with the Swedish authorities that it is necessary to take measures to strengthen the Scandinavian arctic fox, so that we can reach a sustainable population,” Lars Andreas Lunde, Secretary of State at Norway's Ministry for Climate and Environment told Norway's NTB news agency

The Arctic fox is one of Scandinavia's most endangered species, with the number of individuals in the wild now numbering in the hundreds rather than the thousands.
The animals are highly dependent on access to small game such as rodents, with the population spiking in years where there are a lot of lemmings.
Climate change also presents a threat to the Arctic fox, as the common red fox is moving further north, competing for prey and in some cases killing arctic foxes and their cubs. 
Norway and Sweden both have breeding programmes aimed at bolstering the remaining population.
Arctic foxes are now being reintroduced into the Dovrefjell national park, where they have not been seen for the last ten to 15 years.
“Through years of dedicated work, primarily through selective breeding programmes for foxes, we have seen a positive development for the Arctic fox in Scandinavia. But the plight of the polar fox still a challenge, and there is still a need for action,” Lunde said. 


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.