Wednesday

22nd May 2019

60 million people need swine flu vaccine, Brussels warns

  • The new H1N1 flu virus emerged in Mexico and has spread to 136 countries, according to WHO (Photo: Eneas De Troya)

Sixty million Europeans will need priority vaccination against swine flu, EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has said, warning that "there won't be vaccinations for everyone."

Speaking to Portuguese news agency Lusa after her visit to a health centre by the Portuguese town of Estoril, the Cypriot commissioner pointed out that the number of people across the EU most at risk from the new type of flu, A (H1N1), had been estimated at 60 million by Brussels' experts, according to AFP.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Health ministers from the 27 member states are due to meet in October to decide on the practical details of the vaccination programme against swine flu which has infected almost 95,000 people in 136 countries since April, according to official figures by World Health Organisation published on 6 July.

Although the new virus has most lead to less severe health problems than ordinary flu, the WHO has reported 429 deaths from the disease.

Flu vaccine manufacturers increased production of seasonal flu vaccines in June and intend to produce a vaccine against the pandemic H1N1 flu virus, Reuters reported.

So far, the virus remains relatively mild. But experts fear it could mutate to become much strong during winter, the main flu season in Europe.

This may result in a fight between member states for vaccines. Germany, France and the UK have already ordered billions of euros worth of vaccine stockpiles.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Sunday (19 July) said there were 16,095 confirmed cases in the EU and Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland.

Britain has recorded the highest rate at over 10,600. Spain is next with 1,309 while Lithuania is at the bottom of the scale with seven confirmed cases. It is not clear why there are such discrepancies between countries or why Britain is being hit to hard, having recorded 29 deaths by the flu. Spain, with four deaths, is the only other country of the 30 included in the ECDC figures recording fatalities.

The varying figures have also meant different response around the EU. The European Commission has been pushing member states to cooperate and pool resources so that least prepared member states are also covered.

This is meeting resistance in countries such as Britain, which considers itself well prepared.

Seasonal flu

The differences in approach can also be seen when it comes to season flu. Earlier this month, Brussels said national capitals should report annually on vaccination coverage and increase vaccination and vaccine production for ordinary flu.

It suggested that by 2010 some 75 percent of people over 65 and three quarters of people with underlying health problems, such as diabetes and asthma, should be vaccinated annually.

The two specific groups are considered as the most vulnerable against seasonal flu, which results in an estimated 40,000 to 200,000 deaths each year in the EU.

Vaccination rates in the elderly vary across the bloc. While Netherlands has 80 percent coverage, Lithuania comes in at the other end of the scale with only 2 percent of the elderly covered, according to commission figures.

Happy young Finns don't vote at EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

MEPs' #MeToo pledge - only 12 EPP sign up

Leading centre-right figures like Manfred Weber and Antonio Tajani are among the very few conservative candidates to have signed the pledge, set up by female staff at the European Parliament.

Interview

Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

Opinion

Can Tusk go home again?

The opposition may not be able to defeat the rulling PiS without him, but if Donald Tusk wants to go home again, he will first have to remember where he came from.

Feature

Salvini hosts anti-EU 'summit', as old ghosts haunt party

Italy's far-right League called for a "historic" defeat of pro-EU forces at its event in Milan this weekend, but fiscal clashes, fascist symbols, and mafia links cast Salvini's party in a controversial light.

News in Brief

  1. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  2. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  3. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  4. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll
  5. Austrian government chaos as far-right ministers step down
  6. Farage hit by milkshake during campaign tour
  7. New president dissolves Ukraine's parliament
  8. Sweden Democrat MEP ousted for revealing sex harassment

Agenda

EU votes on future leaders This WEEK

The political spotlight switches from Brussels to national capitals and regions this week as Europe gears up for the start of European Parliament elections on Thursday

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us