Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Terror attack shuts down UK parliament

[Updated] Westminster, and its surrounding areas, has been sealed off after a car drove into several people and one policeman was stabbed. At least three people have been killed.

La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale

Le président francais Francois Hollande a mobilisé "tous les moyens nécessaires" pour contrer d'éventuelle cyber-attaques avant l'election présidentielle d'avril et mai. Mais les partis politiques restent vulnérables.

EU doing well in global energy ranking

The majority of countries in the top-20 of the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index are members of the European Union, with Switzerland leading the list.

Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'

The Council of Europe's special representative on migration and refugees released a report that says minors in Europe are enduring "abysmal conditions".

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Advertisements
  2. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  3. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  4. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  6. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  7. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  8. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  10. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  11. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  12. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst

Latest News

  1. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  2. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  3. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  4. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale
  5. EU doing well in global energy ranking
  6. Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'
  7. French socialist woos Europe with new vision
  8. EU to Macedonia: 'Stop playing with fire'