Luxembourgh Times

Vaccinations drop as Luxembourg Covid-19 fight continues

The drop came after a temporary shortage in supply

Vaccination centre at Findel, Luxembourg's 5th

Vaccination centre at Findel, Luxembourg's 5th © Photo credit: Chris Karaba

Vaccinations in Luxembourg fell by more than half last week compared to the previous seven days, the health ministry said on Wednesday, as the country opens the doors for all age groups to get jabbed.

The number of people who received a shot between April 19 and 25 fell to 14,714 from 33,812 the week before that, a decrease of 56.5%.

But despite the numbers Luxembourg continues to strengthen its fight against the virus, with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Tuesday vowing that every adult in the Grand Duchy will receive an invitation to get vaccinated by mid-July. Luxembourg will start inviting people aged 54 and younger for a coronavirus vaccination from this week.

Bettel has previously warned that temporary fluctuations in the immunisation campaign could occur as Luxembourg's vaccine rollout remains dependent on its suppliers.

The government received just one shipment from Pfizer-BioNtech between April 19 and 25, Health Ministry spokesperson Monique Putz, told the Luxembourg Times last week.

Situation remains stable

Recent data suggests that Luxembourg's fight against Covid-19 is improving as the number of new infections dropped by 2.4% from the week beginning April 19, compared to the previous week, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

Deaths and hospital admissions also dropped in the same week. Between April 19 and 25. The number of people who died from the virus fell to five compared to eight the previous week, with the number of people requiring hospital care down to 71 from 84.

The health ministry also reported three cases of the so-called Indian variant last week. However the so-called British strain remains the most dominant variant in the country, accounting for 86% of new cases last week.

Huge demand for AstraZeneca

Over 16,000 volunteers who signed up for an AstraZeneca jab have now received an invitation for the vaccination, the government also announced on Wednesday.

The government website temporarily went down under huge demand on Friday, with over 26,000 volunteers having signed up already, a number that exceeded Bettel's expectations.

The waiting list for the controversial British-Swedish vaccine was put in place after Luxembourg's top infectious disease body recommended to restrict the jab to over 55 year olds over concerns of blood clotting linked to the jab.

Luxembourg's top infectious diseases body is also considering to open up the single-jab Johnson & Johnson vaccine for volunteers, after the American pharmaceutical giant halted deliveries over similar blood clotting cases allegedly associated with the vaccine.

Luxembourg has started inviting people aged 54 and younger for a coronavirus vaccination this week, the government said on Tuesday, as the country enters a decisive stage in its fight against Covid-19.

On Monday, Bettel said he expected every adult in Luxembourg would be called upon to get vaccinated by the middle of July.

"As things stand now, we can, in the next few weeks, and before the summer holidays, send every Luxembourger an invitation", Bettel said, speaking at the national congress of his centrist Democratic Party on Monday.

Long a laggard in the EU, Luxembourg's vaccine rollout has closed in on the EU average, with 21% of the total population having received one vaccine dose, according to Oxford University's research project Our World in Data. Malta remains the bloc's leaders with almost one in two Maltese having been given one jab, compared to the EU average of 22%.

Large scale testing missed few cases

Just as little as 366 infections might have gone undetected up until mid January, Dr Thomas Dentzer, Chief Strategy Officer at the Luxembourg Health Directorate ("Santé") wrote in the scientific magazine The Lancet, together with Professor Paul Wilmes, spokesperson for the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force and Dr Joël Mossong, also of the Santé.

Serological sampling found that 7.7% of the population had Covid antibodies as of 15 January which would correspond to 48,264 cases, the scientists said. “Compared to the 48,630 cases recorded until [that] date, this suggests that case detection in Luxembourg is very high, with only around 0.8% of the cases having gone undetected,” Dentzer said.

"While this type of information is missing for most countries, similar data indicate that in contrast 62.3% of cases might have gone undetected in Belgium", the scientists added, emphasising the success of Luxembourg large-scale testing regime.

Low vaccination rate

Under half of health care workers who treat patients at their home (46%) - predominantly nurses - and just over half of elderlies who receive that service (55%) have had a vaccine, health minister Paulette Lenert said in response to a parliamentary question posed by CSV MPs Martine Hansen, Marc Spautz and Claude Wiseler.

Both figures are considerably lower than the 64% of health care workers in hospitals and care homes as well 94% of care home residents who have been vaccinated, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

PM Xavier reiterated last week that vaccinations remain voluntary, despite calls to make inoculations mandatory for health care stuff in light of clusters in care homes.

From 921 care-at-home patients who tested positive, 32 died of Covid-19, Lenert also said, referencing figures supplied by the health care services. Over 1 in 10 of workers have tested positive for Covid since the start of the pandemic, the health minister said.