UPDATE: Norway agrees to regional Covid-19 vaccine prioritisation in change of strategy

UPDATE: Norway agrees to regional Covid-19 vaccine prioritisation in change of strategy
Illustration photo: Luis ROBAYO / AFP
Norway’s government is to follow advice issued by the country’s health authority by switching to a regional prioritisation for distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Health minister Bent Høie confirmed at a briefing on Tuesday that the country would shift its strategy in line with recommendations earlier issued by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

As such, municipalities and neighbourhoods with high infection rates will receive vaccine supplies earlier than other parts of country where the number of cases of Covid-19 is low.

Areas likely to be prioritised highly under the new plan include neighbourhoods in capital Oslo and several municipalities in the east of the country, broadcaster NRK reports.

Earlier on Tuesday, NIPH recommended taking around 3 percent of vaccine doses from around 330 neighbourhoods and municipalities with low infection and hospitalisation numbers and using them to boost supply in parts of Oslo, eastern municipality Lørenskog and other municipalities in the eastern region.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Municipalities in Oslo region to tighten restrictions

“The government believes that distribution of vaccines is a very technical question and we place a lot of weight on NIPH’s recommendation. We are therefore now asking them to begin work on a moderate geographical redistribution,” Høie said.

The redistribution is expected to take effect by the middle of March in order to prevent second doses being disrupted. NIPH is also required to ensure it has a legal basis for the redistribution, according to NRK.

The health authority recommended the government change the national vaccination strategy for the coronavirus soon, Norwegian media including VG reported.

The recommendation is based on mathematical modelling and strategies which shows the outcomes and effects of unequal geographical prioritisation and NIPH now believes the situation with the virus in Norway calls for the change in strategy.

“In summary, we believe that there are more arguments in favour of a geographical targeting with distribution of vaccines over a period of time, and the Institute of Public Health therefore recommends a change to the vaccine strategy which reflects this,” NIPH director Camilla Stoltenberg said in the recommendation, which was published at 12pm on Tuesday.

Vaccines have so far been distributed evenly between regions. Capital city Oslo has had a higher R-number or reproduction rate than other parts of the country throughout much of the Covid-19 epidemic in Norway.

READ ALSO: When can you expect to get the Covid-19 vaccine in Norway?


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