‘Obama cares more about Norway than Reinfeldt’

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt tried on Friday to respond to criticism that he has been missing-in-action following last week's terror attacks in Norway.

'Obama cares more about Norway than Reinfeldt'

For much of the last week, Reinfeldt has been under fire for his lack of appropriate response in the wake of the bloodiest attack in Scandinavia since WWII.

A letter addressed to Reinfeldt said it was “sad” that US President Barack Obama “seems to care more about last week’s deadly tragedy in Norway,” reported newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

While Reinfeldt issued a statement the evening of the attacks and held a press conference the following day, he has kept a low profile ever since.

The letter comes after Reinfeldt failed to attend the memorial service at the Church of Norway in Stockholm last Sunday and has been mum, critics even say invisible, since last week’s attacks, sparking an onslaught of disapproving commentary.

More than 50 letters were sent to the Prime Minister’s office this week regarding Norway’s tragedy, with most slamming Reinfeldt’s response, DN reported.

Comments included how Reinfeldt’s reaction to the tragedy “totally crushed” a supporter’s impression of him to how extremely “disappointed” one became in the way he handled the situation.

On the one week anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Reinfeldt published commentary in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper where he described the “senseless” explosion in Oslo and shootings in Utøya a “crime against us all.”

Echoing Norwegian leadership, he stated the “answer to the threat to our freedom and democracy must be more freedom and democracy.”

While recalling December’s suicide bomb in Stockholm, he described Sweden and its Nordic neighbours as some of the “most open and free countries.”

“We should also be aware that our open society makes us vulnerable. Anyone who wants to can take advantage of the open society to spread hatred and death,” he wrote, adding that there will never be a sufficient solution.

Reinfeldt also took care to emphasise his early contact with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in the wake of the drama to express Sweden’s deep sympathy and offer help.

In comparison, President Obama expressed his sympathies for the Norwegian people on live-TV just hours after the attack and also made a personal visit to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC in the thick of his country’s dire finance crisis.

Meanwhile, Denmark’s Prime Minister spoke at the memorial service held in Copenhagen this week.

Per Schlingmann, State Secretary of Communications, was surprised by the stinging criticism of Reinfeldt, who he said acted swiftly and even offered help, such as with ambulances that might have been needed.

“The Prime Minister acted quickly both during the night it happened, but even with a press conference the day after. He offered to go to the memorial ceremony in Oslo, but they did not have international guests,” he told DN.

According to Schlingmann, the requests for a more visible presence from Reinfeldt simply bear witness to the strong confidence the Swedish people have in him as Prime Minister.

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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.