“Our thoughts are with Norway”: Reinfeldt

"Our thoughts are with Norway today," said prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt at a press conference on Saturday, commenting on yesterday's attacks in Norway.

“The unthinkable has struck our neighbours in Norway,” stated a subdued Reinfeldt, adding that this is most likely the most violent attack Norway has experienced.

Seven people have now been confirmed killed following the bomb explosion in central Oslo, and at least 84 died on Utøya, an island hosting a social democrat youth camp, where a gunman went on the rampage. It is feared that the death toll will rise, as police continue their search of the island on Saturday.

A man has been arrested for the massacre at Utøya, and it is thought that he also lies behind the blast in Oslo.

Police have confirmed his identity as 32 year-old Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist known to have been critical of islam and multiculturalism.

Reinfeldt issued a statement earlier Saturday morning, lamenting the events, and issuing his condoleances.

“I offer my deepest condolences for the tragedy that has happened in Oslo and at the Norwegian Social Democrats’ youth camp. My thoughts go to the relatives of the victims and to those who have been injured.”

Foreign minister Carl Bildt has also expressed his empathy, and on Friday confirmed through his blog that he has been in contact with his Norwegian colleague Jonas Störe to offer any help needed.

At the press conference at Rosenbad, Reinfeldt continued, “A difficult trial awaits the whole Norwegian society, but questions will be raised by us in Sweden as well: fear and rage that a person can be capable of doing this to fellow man.”

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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.