Sweden vaccinated 80,000 against COVID-19 through Jan 10 – health agency

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden has vaccinated around 80,000 people against COVID-19 since it began with its programme last month, the Public Health Agency said on Tuesday.

Sweden had received around 160,000 doses of Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s vaccine by January 10, with around half having been administered by that date, Health Agency data showed.

“No region has reported problems with carrying out vaccinations,” the Agency said in a statement.

Several regions, however, have been saving vaccine in order to be able to give a second dose, which the agency now recommends against as further deliveries of vaccine were expected to proceed as planned. 

Sweden, with a population of around 10 million, has prioritized residents in care homes for the elderly, staff working at those facilities and their families in the first wave of vaccinations that began on Dec. 27.

The next phase will see citizens over 70 years of age vaccinated, as well as healthcare workers, and is expected to begin in February.

Separately, the government said on Tuesday it would put aside a further 5.5 billion crowns ($664.24 million) for COVID testing and tracing on top of the 2 billion already earmarked, news agency TT reported.

“It is easy to believe that we do not need to trace and test so much when we have started with vaccinations,” Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren was quoted as saying. “But it will be a while before we can stop testing for COVID.” 

Sweden has carried out around 300,000 tests a week during December, according to Hallengren. 

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard)