Norway changes ‘back-up’ Covid-19 vaccine stock to expand rollout

Norway changes 'back-up' Covid-19 vaccine stock to expand rollout
Photo: AFP
The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) says it will no longer keep back half of its Covid-19 vaccine doses.

The health body says it has found an alternative to ensure a back-up of the second dose needed to complete inoculation against coronavirus.

Vaccination delays and the threat of more infectious variants including B117, which has recently been detected in the Oslo area, have been cited as criticism has mounted towards Norway’s decision to freeze half of all incoming doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

While Nordic neighbour Denmark has decided to concentrate on issuing the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in an attempt to boost the numbers of those getting access to one dose, Norway decided to freeze half of its stock in order to ensure the availability of second doses of the vaccine to those who had already received the first.

This meant that in early January, Denmark had vaccinated 40,000 people while Norway had only vaccinated 2,200, despite receiving the same number of doses from Pfizer.

READ ALSO: Why is Norway behind other Nordic countries on Covid-19 vaccination?

Norway's health authorities decided to keep the doses back out of concerns that, if deliveries were interrupted, waits to receive the second jab could be delayed too long.

That has not transpired with the deliveries from Pfizer, despite the company's recent announcement that it would reduce its vaccine deliveries to Norway and Europe.

Meanwhile, Norway also has a policy of waiting until the following Monday after receiving doses before distributing them, in part to enable smooth distribution.

The change in approach means that the country will now use all the 'second doses' it has stored in order to move its vaccination programme forwards.

The doses on hold for up to a week will now act as the buffer in case of delivery interruptions, according to a report on the matter by newspaper VG.

“By ensuring we have a back-up for the second dose like we are now doing, we are eliminating this delay in practice,” NIPH executive director Geir Bukholm told VG.

This means that 40,000 additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be taken out of the freezer where they have been stored until now, and distributed across the country for vaccination.

 


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