Denmark slams Swedish vaccine plans

The decision by the Minister for Public Health, Morgan Johansson, to open a vaccine factory in Sweden has been lambasted by his Danish counterpart, Lars Lökke Rasmussen.

Johansson announced on Tuesday that Swedish authorities are to begin a joint project with a private pharmaceutical company to build a new production facility in Sweden.

“That’s news to me – I’m very surprised,” said Lökke Rasmussen to the Danish news agency Ritzau, pointing out that the Nordic countries had decided earlier this year to explore the possibilities of a joint solution to the threat of a bird ‘flu pandemic.

The Swedish announcement came just days before a meeting between the Nordic health ministers in Copenhagen on Friday. On the agenda is a presentation of two possible solutions to the problem – either a state-run factory or a cooperation with a private company.

Johansson’s decision is seen as an attempt to drive through a ‘Swedish’ solution, a “diktat”, according to Lökke Rasmussen. The Danish social democrats called Johansson’s actions “disagreeable”.

“If everyone worked in this manner there would never be any joint solutions. It’s a shame that the Swedish approach has put a stop to a sensible Nordic solution,” said the Danish minister.

But Johansson rejected the criticism.

“I don’t understand it at all. I think this should be seen as constructive, an initiative where we are offering to go out to the private manufacturers. If Denmark believes in a model with a state monopoly then of course Denmark is welcome to follow that road,” commented Johansson to TT.

He added that Sweden still believes in a joint Nordic solution.

Norway’s health minister wanted to refrain from commenting until Friday, and Finland and Iceland have not reacted.

It could simply be that the reason for the Danish outburst is that prestige is at stake, said Ritzau’s sources.

The Danish understanding was that the state-owned Serum Institute would be a key player in any public manufacturing process – but the Swedish plan has scuppered that.

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TT/The Local