AstraZeneca vaccine mostly in Finland, fewer passports issued, more snow, microplastics on the beaches
Vaccines against the coronavirus, snow and other topics made headlines Tuesday.
Finland’s largest daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the majority of healthy Finns of working age will receive the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, according to Mika Rämet, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the University of Tampere.
AstraZeneca has pledged to produce three billion doses of the vaccine this year. That would be enough to vaccinate 1.5 billion people.
The vaccine is currently awaiting market authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which, according to current information, is scheduled for late January. Following authorization from the EMA, the vaccine has yet to be approved by the European Commission.
Rämet is optimistic that by the summer the majority of the population will have received a vaccine against the coronavirus. “This goal requires that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines be followed by a third, and preferably a fourth, vaccine,” he notes.
The Finnish government has come under fire for the pace of the vaccine rollout, and the Prime Minister last week Sanna Marin asked the European Commission to speed up supply lines.
Broken passport applications
Paper too writing (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the number of passport applications fell last year, with police issuing half as many passports as the year before.
Between January and October of last year, the number of valid passports decreased by 207,000, while the number of valid identity cards increased by 127,000.
Juhani ruutu, the chief inspector of the Finnish National Police Council says it appears people have decided to opt for an ID card instead once their passports have expired.
However, the number of claims is expected to rise sharply once global travel restrictions are lifted again, HS writes.
Falling passport demand, as well as an increase in printing costs affected the prices of new passports, which rose by seven euros in January. Passports now cost between € 52 and € 58, depending on whether applications are filed electronically or in person at a police station, along with other factors.
Beach microplastics and other waste
A study by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) found that plastic waste and microplastics were found on the beaches of the Bay of Bothnia in the Gulf of Finland, reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) The trade union daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.
Samples were collected from seven beaches in Oulu, Vaasa, Pori, Eurajoki, Porvoo, Helsinki and Hanko. The most littered was Helsinki Beach on the historic island of Suomenlinna.
Microplastics are formed when plastic waste breaks down into small pieces. It has been found in almost all kinds of environments, as well as in human bodies. Last year, a study found that microplastics were found in the placenta of pregnant women.
“Much of the plastic waste in Suomenlinna was made up of plastic fibers created from the spraying of concrete during the construction of the West Metro in Espoo. The fibers of the yard ended up in the sea ”, declared Anna Soirinsuo, WWF’s head of marine conservation in a press release.
Another type of plastic waste commonly found on beaches was cigarette butts, which have a plastic filter.
The cleanest beaches were seen at Yyteri in Pori and Bellevue in Hanko, which can likely be attributed to the cleanup efforts of towns and local volunteers, the expert said.
More snow on the way
According to Juha Föhr, a meteorologist with the Foreca Weather Service, even southern parts of the country can expect at least 20 centimeters of extra snow.
Following the onset of freezing temperatures last week, the Finnish coastguard urged people to avoid waters that appear to be frozen, as it could still be dangerous.