Most new coronavirus infections in 3 weeks; New vaccine envoy named
Some 4,618 more people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection in the Netherlands, public health agency RIVM said on Thursday. That was the highest total reported in a single day since January 28.
The figure was 35 percent higher than on Wednesday, and three percent above last week's tally, raising the seven-day moving average to 3,679. So far this week, 13,644 tests for the viral infection have come back positive, an increase of 16 percent over last week.
The RIVM estimated that another 39,030 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered on Wednesday, bringing the total up to 874,959. The daily figure released on Thursday was about 27 percent above the seven-day average. The data includes over 154 thousand injections which were the second dose of either the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines. All three require two doses for maximum protection.
Biotech leader Hans Schikan named Special Vaccine Envoy
With between 3.5 and 4 percent of the population having been given at least one dose, the Netherlands still ranks well below most European Union countries. To help speed up the process, the caretaker health minister, Hugo de Jonge, named Hans Schikan as the government's new special envoy for vaccines.
Among his tasks will be to "speak with companies that are or will supply Covid vaccines for the Netherlands to see whether they are still experiencing obstacles in scaling up production and delivery," the ministry said in a statement. He will also work to determine the domestic production capacity of Covid-19 vaccines, and will help ensure that companies fulfill their vaccine delivery commitments.
The 62-year-old was formerly the CEO of biotech company Prosensa, and serves on supervisory boards of several national and international bio-pharmaceutical firms, the government noted. He will present a report in about a month detailing his recommendations for scaling up vaccine production in the Netherlands and the European Union.
Hospitals seeing Covid patient admissions increase
Dutch hospitals on Thursday were also treating 1,931 patients with Covid-19, a single-day increase of one percent. "We are seeing a slight increase in the average number of [hospital] admissions compared to last week," said patient coordination office LCPS.
The patient total included 523 people in intensive care, a net increase of three, and 1,408 others in regular care, a net increase of nine. The hospitalized total was one percent lower than a week ago, which put the Netherlands on pace for 1,912 total coronavirus hospital patients by next Thursday.
To date, 1,042,674 people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 infection, including 15,089 who died from Covid-19. The death toll rose by 74, the RIVM reported on Thursday. This week, 278 people reportedly died from the disease, up six percent on last week.