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DRUGS

AstraZeneca to slash 900 jobs in Lund

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca has announced it is shutting down its research facility in Lund in southern Sweden as part of a package of global cutbacks.

AstraZeneca revealed on Tuesday that it is moving its research on respiratory and inflammatory diseases to Mölndal in western Sweden. News of the Lund closure was greeted with shock and resignation by staff at the facility.

“A lot of people have been worried. We have escaped previous purges and hoped right until the end that it would work out this time too,” said Bo Servenius, chairman of the local chapter of the Akademikerföreningen trade union.

“A lot of people were stunned, silent and withdrawn. There were a lot of questions that came up: what happens now; can we move too?”

AstraZeneca’s Lund facility will cease to exist “in the latter part of 2011”, while the firm’s Mölndal operation is set to expand.

“Operations in Lund and Charnwood will be moved there,” according to a company statement.

Some staff from Lund may be offered the possibility of moving to Mölndal, where local Akademikerföreningen chairwoman Aina Illiano confessed to a great deal of uncertainty as to what the future might hold.

“It’s hard to say whether it will be plus or minus for Mölndal in the end,” she told news agency TT.

“The company is now going to examine what sort of competence it requires,” she added.

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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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