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Luxembourg to next vaccinate people older than 75

Luxembourg to next vaccinate people older than 75

by KO 3 min. 10.01.2021 From our online archive
More than 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine expected to arrive on Monday
Corona-sceptic protestors in Luxembourg city on Saturday. The sign says: "Knowledge is a weapon. Ignorance disarms us." Photo: Douwe Miedema
Corona-sceptic protestors in Luxembourg city on Saturday. The sign says: "Knowledge is a weapon. Ignorance disarms us." Photo: Douwe Miedema

Residents older than 75 will be the next to be vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus as part of Luxembourg's five-step immunisation strategy, as the country readies for deliveries of a second vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Moderna.

Luxembourg will receive 1,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday, Health Minister Paulette Lenert told parliamentarians on Friday evening, according to broadcaster RTL. The European Medicines Agency approved the use of the Moderna vaccine in EU countries on Wednesday.

A crowd of some 150 protestors gathered in the centre of the capital on Saturday, opposing the use of face-masks - which almost none of them wore - and other measures such as Covid-testing. Some were also carrying slogans against 5G technology and critical of capitalism.  

There is widespread criticism that the EU - which centrally runs procurement of the vaccine for the 27 countries that are its members - did not order enough vaccines before they became available - unlike for instance the US or the UK for instance, which are well ahead of Europe in terms of the number of residents they have inoculated.

The Luxembourg Times reported last week that only 6% of the country's population is set to get the vaccine by the end of March, with around 36,000 doses for a population of around 630,000, to which cross-border workers in the healthcare need to be added.

Lenert confirmed that number in Friday's debate, leading Jeff Englen of the right-wing Alternative Democratic Reform party to ask her why the country had not ordered more vaccines, a message reflected by Jean-Marie Halsdorf from the christian-democrat CSV.

Luxembourg is currently on the lower end of EU countries with regards to vaccinations per capita, according to a University of Oxford tracker, whilst Denmark, Italy and Slovenia are leading the pack.

The social-democrat minister in parliament detailed the country's five-step vaccination programme, saying that people over 75 will be vaccinated next, followed by those between ages 65 and 75. The third group will be those between 50 to 65, followed by vulnerable people under 50, and finally anyone between 16 and 50 and cross-border workers.

Countries on Friday squabbled over whether Germany was allowed to have ordered more of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine just for itself, outside the EU programme. Luxembourg had also asked the two groups for more of the vaccine, but it dropped that plan after the European Commission struck a deal to buy another 300 million doses on Friday.

Lawmakers also rubber-stamped an easing of the current lockdown rules, reopening shops and fitness centres, sending chidlren back into classrooms and reducing the hours of an overnight curfew, with the number of active cases of Covid-19 markedly lower than in November.

Yet academics had warned against easing the rules on several occasions, with one study recommending to stick to the tight rules as long as the number of daily new cases remained above 150.

Over the weekend Luxembourg recorded 240 new cases, with 136 on Saturday and 104 on Sunday. The health ministry also noted 6 new deaths from the virus over the weekend, bringing the total to 533.

(Additional reporting by Douwe Miedema)

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