What’s Behind the Covid Surge in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands has been in the news this week after Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologised for reopening nightclubs at the end of June following a surge in infections that came in the following two weeks. Rutte has now closed them again for a month amid allegations that he made a “criminal choice” and “put people in danger”.

The rise in positive tests certainly looks alarming – though note the past four days has seen a slowdown.

However, the rise needs to take into account that when night clubs and other venues reopened there was a requirement that guests presented a negative COVID-19 test (or proof of vaccination, but few in the relevant age group are vaccinated) within 40 hours prior to entry. This means lots of asymptomatic or mild infections in young adults are now being picked up that were previously going under the radar.

Most Of the AstraZeneca Vaccines Ordered By the Netherlands Will Go Unused

Most of the 11 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine ordered by the Dutch Government will go unused because so many other vaccines will soon be available in the country, according to the director of its vaccination programme. The Netherlands recently limited the use of the AZ vaccine to people aged over 60 following cases of blood clots which are also believed to have damaged public confidence in the vaccine. Dutch News has the story.

The head of the vaccination department at [the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment has told] the AD [newspaper] in an interview that the millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reach the Netherlands in the coming weeks will largely remain unused.

So many vaccines will be delivered that the AstraZeneca vaccine, currently only given to people aged 60 to 64, will not be needed, Jaap van Delden told the paper.

The Netherlands has ordered 11 million doses of the vaccine and some 1.5 million doses have been given to date. Most of the order is due to be delivered in mid-May.

The chaotic introduction of the AstraZeneca vaccine – first halted, then allowed, then halted for the under-60s – because of concerns about very rare blood clots, has led to a low take-up rate in some doctors’ practices.

But the national family doctors association [the National General Practitioners Association] LHV has reacted to the comments, saying that the AstraZeneca vaccine is extremely important and that the interview with Van Delden has only confused the issue more.

“The policy changes surrounding this vaccine are making it more difficult for doctors to ensure high turnout [for the vaccination]”, the organisation said.

“This is absolutely not helping… As far as we are concerned it is clear: if the choice is AstraZeneca now or possibly another vaccine later, then the choice should absolutely be for AstraZeneca now.”

In the interview with AD, Jaap van Delden said the leftover vaccines are likely to be distributed among poorer countries.

The Dutch News report is worth reading in full.