SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Norway to retain suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine until at least next week

Norway said on Thursday it would wait before resuming use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine even though it has been declared safe by Europe's medical regulator.

Norway to retain suspension of AstraZeneca vaccine until at least next week
(Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) said that after an investigation the AstraZeneca vaccine was “safe and effective” and not linked to an increased risk of blood clots.

The ruling, which was similar to the World Health Organization’s statement, led to European heavyweights Germany, France, Spain and Italy all saying they would soon resume vaccinations with the jab.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said it “took note” of the EMA’s finding, but deemed it “premature” at this point to come to a final conclusion.

The NIPH said it would issue its own guidance at the end of next week.

“Vaccinations with AstraZeneca will remain suspended until we have a full view of the situation,” institute director Camilla Stoltenberg told media.  

On Thursday, a Norwegian medical team claimed it found a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots in patients who became seriously ill or died a few days after their first injection.

 “We obtained results that could explain the clinical evolution of our hospitalised patients,” said Pål Andre Holme, professor and chief physician at Oslo University Hospital.

“These results support our theory… that these patients had a strong immune response which led to the formation of antibodies that could affect the (blood) platelets and lead to a thrombus” or blood clot, he added.

READ MORE: Norwegian experts conclude ‘strong immune response’ from AstraZeneca vaccine linked to blood clots

 Asked if the death was caused by the vaccine, he replied: “I don’t see any other possibility at this point,” while emphasising that it was still a question of “indicators”.

Norwegian media said the results were recent and had not been taken into consideration by the EMA.

The European agency’s safety committee concluded that the vaccine was “not associated with an increase in the overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots”, according to EMA chief Emer Cooke.

She nonetheless declined to “rule out definitively” a link to a rare clotting disorder.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office

SHOW COMMENTS