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ASTRAZENECA

500 jobs to go as Pfizer closes Stockholm factory

The drug company Pfizer has announced plans to close its factory in Stockholm. The move will lead to the loss of 500 jobs over the next three years.

In a press statement, the company said that the closure was a result of the board’s decision to stop the development of a new product and was part of a global cost-cutting programme.

In fact, the axe has been hovering over the factory for almost ten years. In 1996 Pharmacia, as the company was then, decided that the plant had to close but the final blow was repeatedly postponed.

“We invested a lot in the new product which would have brought increased profits for the Stockholm factory,” said Zeibrant Lindqvist, the managing director of Pfizer Health AB.

“To have to shut down development of the product is a great disappointment for all of us.”

The product in question is the growth hormone, Genotropin. It will now be produced at other factories, “perhaps abroad”, noted Dagens Nyheter.

“Quite simply, it’s bloody awful,” said the vice-chairman union Industrifacket’s Pfizer branch, Petteri Raita.

“We’ve been a good production outfit until today, but now the owners say that it costs too much to keep the factory alive.”

With factories in Uppsala and Helsingborg, the company recently announced that it was investing almost a billion kronor in a new plant in Strängnäs. However, there was no indication that there would be jobs there for the people laid off in Stockholm.

“The factory in Helsingborg is going very well and they take people on all the time there,” said Petteri Raita. “But it’s a long way to Helsingborg.”

The employee participation phase of the decision-making process will begin next week and continue until the autumn.

“We don’t know when the first people will be laid off – but if we look ahead the majority of the staff will leave in 2007,” said Zeibrant Lindqvist.

The announcement rounded up what Dagens Nyheter called “a dark day for Swedish industry”. Earlier, the paper company Billerud said it was laying off 450 staff while Saab said it was cutting 350 workers following a reduction in workload for its Gripen JAS 39 fighter plane.

NORWAY

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.

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