Fri, 14 May 2021

STOCKHOLM, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Delivery problems have hampered the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Sweden and caused great frustration among the general public, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) said on Friday.

The government has pledged that every adult in Sweden will be vaccinated by the end of June, but the SALAR warned that this might not happen as vaccine deliveries are not expected to be scaled up before the end of May at the earliest.

Also, only a fraction of the number of doses the government and the Public Health Agency had forecast would have been delivered has actually arrived, SALAR told journalists.

"By the end of February, the regions will have received just under 1.1 million doses, which is less than a third of the forecast. The situation is the same throughout Europe," said Emma Spak, SALAR's head of health and medical care.

The local authorities and regions maintain that they have fulfilled their part of the deal by building up enough capacity to deliver 1.2 million vaccine doses per week.

Meanwhile, 474,000 individuals had received at least one dose by Friday, two months to the day since the first doses arrived in Sweden, according to the Public Health Agency.

The majority of those living in nursing homes were included in the first phase of Sweden's vaccination campaign. On Thursday, the government said that nursing homes will open to visitors again.

Representatives of several of the country's regions testified at the press conference that they were ready for the second phase.

"We are ready but need more doses to move forward," said Inger Nordin Olsson, vaccine coordinator in the Orebro region, adding that the delays had caused disappointment among those waiting to be vaccinated.

"All of us who work with this see that the expectations from the public are enormous. There are always questions and further questions. We do our best, but the deciding factor is the availability of vaccines."

To make matters worse, the country's regions have hired temporary staff to administer the jabs. Now they are sitting idle.

At a separate press conference, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven briefed journalists about the European Council meeting, which was held via video conference on Feb. 25-26, and said he was aware of the vaccine delivery problem.

"It is problematic that we have not received the vaccine deliveries we have been promised," he said. "Now the focus is on increasing access to vaccines and we will, together with the manufacturers, do whatever we can to secure the rollout."

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in many European countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Feb. 23.

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