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SWEDEN

Sweden plummets in income equality ranking

The living conditions of most Swedes have improved in recent decades, but income inequality is growing rapidly, according to a new OECD report, which saw Sweden drop 14 spots from its first place ranking in 1995.

Sweden plummets in income equality ranking

The report, published on Wednesday, saw income distribution in Swedish households take an unparalleled shift between 1995 and 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“If this development continues for five, ten years, then Sweden won’t be a poster child for equality among the OECD countries,” Michael Forster, one of the authors of the report, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

The percentage of poor Swedes in 2010 was nine percent, a figure more than twice as high as in 1995 where it was just four percent.

Such a dramatic change in the OECD’s measure of relative poverty has not occurred in any of the other 33 OECD countries.

The organization, however, has been criticized for using the word ‘poverty’ in its report.

“I don’t usually use the word ‘poverty’ in this context. A measure of this kind is closer to a country’s ‘income spread’,” Hans Heggemann, who makes similar measurements for Statistics Sweden (SCB), told SvD.

“Since the end of the nineties we’ve seen sharp increases in disposable income in nearly all the groups that we can measure. The richest tenth has got much more than the rest.”

The trend of growing rifts has caused an international political debate, especially in the United States, but the topic has not been so widely talked about in Sweden, according to SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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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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