Johnson & Johnson confirms schedule for vaccine delivery to Norway

Norway has received a boost to its vaccination programme as Johnson & Johnson said it aims to start delivery of its vaccine in the second half of April.

Johnson & Johnson confirms schedule for vaccine delivery to Norway

Norway has ordered 900,000 doses of the vaccine and in its best-case scenario plan will distribute 300,000 doses each in April, May and June, with the aim of having everyone under the age of 18 vaccinated by the end of June. The company has now said it will begin delivering doses from next month, newspaper VG writes.

The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) had previously expressed concern due to uncertainty about when the vaccine would arrive.

Originally, the health authority was not given a schedule for deliveries by the company and had feared its vaccine programme would fall behind if the first orders were not received by April.

NIPH’s director of infection prevention and control Geir Bukholm explained the impact that any potential delay could have in comments to VG.

“It will have significant consequences for the program of the vaccination program. It is a significant delivery,” Bukholm said.

On Thursday, European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended approving Johnson & Johnson’s single dose Covid vaccine after a successful trial, paving the way for the European Commission to allow it to be rolled out across the EU and in Norway.

The vaccine only requires one dose, is easy to store and has shown effectiveness against the B1351 mutation, first identified in South Africa.

It is 66 percent effective against moderate to severe illness and 85 percent effective against severe illness and death, according to Johnson & Johnson’s data from clinical trials.

The company has committed to delivering 200 million doses of the vaccine across the EU by the end of 2021.

READ ALSO: EU drugs regulator approves new single dose vaccine

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany